Hearing set for year-old Tappan case

Nashua police photo Devin Tappan, 31, 32 Kinsley St., Apt. 1, Nashua

NASHUA – The second-degree murder case of Devin Tappan, the 31-year-old former resident of Nashua accused of bludgeoning to death a 45-year-old neighbor just over a year ago, heads back to court next week.

Tappan has been jailed without bail since his arrest Jan. 7, 2017, a day after police discovered the body of 45-year-old Javier Rivera Afanador while conducting a well-being check at 32 Kinsley St., where both men lived in separate apartments.

The hearing, described in court records as a review hearing, is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Nashua District Court.

While many documents in Tappan’s case file remain under seal, including information on what prompted his alleged attack on Afanador or whether the men knew each other, and if so, the nature of their relationship, it is known that the issue of competency is a significant factor in the case.

Indications are that the upcoming hearing will focus on the question of whether it’s possible to restore Tappan to a level of competency that would allow him to stand trial.

Defendants who are ruled incompetent, but restorable, are typically re-evaluated after one year, at which time a hearing is held to determine his or her competency status.

The charge of second-degree murder accuses Tappan of killing Afanador by “repeatedly striking him in the head with a hand-held weight,” according to police and the state Attorney General’s office.

Police at the time estimated that Afanador, who lived upstairs from Tappan in the Kinsley Street apartment building, was killed sometime between 2 a.m. and 7:24 p.m. on Jan. 6.

The following day, after developing Tappan as a suspect, police brought him to headquarters for questioning. At some point, he allegedly became combative, kicking an officer in the stomach, then “tensing his arms” and pulling away while another officer tried to handcuff him, according to police reports.

Tappan also is accused of telling a detective, “I am going to punch you right in your face,” the reports state. Finally, according to police, Tappan allegedly damaged police property by “urinating on the chairs and carpets in the Special Investigations Divisions’s interview Room 1.”

His alleged actions resulted in charges including criminal mischief, criminal threatening, simple assault, resisting arrest or detention and one count of breach of bail, which stemmed from Tappan being out on bail at the time on a December theft charge.

Those charges remain pending as the second-degree murder case moves forward.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.