Attorneys: Son now competent to stand trial in mother’s murder

  • Frances Nash Courtesy

  • Phillip Nash, 21, waived extradition to New Hampshire from Virginia on Thursday night and will be arraigned on the murder charge Friday afternoon in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord. He is accused of knowingly causing the death of his mother, Frances Nash, 51, of Chichester. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Phillip Nash

Monitor staff
Published: 1/28/2020 4:49:34 PM

A Canterbury man accused of fatally stabbing his mother nearly two years ago is now mentally competent to stand trial, according to an agreement recently filed by attorneys.

A hearing is scheduled for this spring to determine the next steps in the case against Phillip Nash.

Nash, 22, is charged with alternative counts of second-degree murder in the death of his mother, Frances Nash, 51, of Chichester, whose body was recovered by investigators from a swamp in late May 2018. Prosecutors allege Phillip Nash killed his mother on May 17; however, her remains were not recovered until almost four days later.

Within weeks of his arrest, defense attorney Emma Sisti raised questions about Phillip Nash’s competency to stand trial on charges stemming from his mother’s death. By that fall, he had undergone a competency evaluation by a forensic psychologist, and a judge had found him incompetent to stand trial in the murder case. Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara ruled that Nash was “currently incompetent, but restorable” in October 2018.

Since that time, Nash has remained in state custody to undergo mental health treatment, and the court has continued to receive updates about his status.

McNamara ordered a further competency evaluation for Nash late last year, and the results of that evaluation were shared with attorneys and the court earlier this month. While the report itself is under seal and not available for the public’s review, attorneys did disclose in a related agreement that Nash has been “restored” and, therefore, is presently competent to stand trial.

Three affidavits unsealed at the Monitor’s request in late 2018 detail the final hours of Frances Nash’s life and the missing person investigation that resulted in her son’s arrest in Virginia. Prosecutors allege Phillip Nash fled south in a stolen vehicle after the murder.

Canterbury police received a report of a broken down vehicle on Hackleboro Road in the town on May 21, 2018. The vehicle, identified as Frances Nash’s stolen Mercury Mariner, was leaking fluids and smelled of gasoline. The SUV’s exterior and undercarriage were coated in dried mud and its interior was spotted with reddish-brown stains, later determined to be blood.

Led by a K9 unit, investigators walked a trail, beginning in the area of 354 Hackleboro Road, and found Frances Nash’s body in a swamp, partially covered with a blanket that appeared burned. 

Investigators concluded through later forensic testing that she was likely in the driver’s seat at the time she was fatally stabbed.

Phillip Nash was previously arrested in 2017 and charged with domestic violence for allegedly placing his mother in a chokehold inside her vehicle before wrestling her to the ground, according to court records. A judge agreed to drop the case against him if he remained of good behavior and underwent a mental health evaluation. However, he was arrested again a few days later and charged with trespassing at a Manchester school and resisting arrest. He never received the mental health evaluation.

A status hearing in the murder case is scheduled for April 27 at 8:30 a.m. in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319 or at adandrea@cmonitor.com.)



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