Judge weighs murder suspect’s competency

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

NASHUA – Experts were questioned and segments of phone calls Devin Tappan made from prison were played by prosecutors, as the sides in Tappan’s murder case addressed, at his most recent hearing last week, the topic of his competency to stand trial.

Tappan, who turned 32 last week, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder for allegedly bludgeoning to death his roommate in a Kinsley Street apartment house in January 2017.

Tappan lived at 32 Kinsley St., Apt. 1, at the time of the Jan. 6 murder. He was arrested the following day after police, called to the residence on a well-being check, discovered the body of 45-year-old Javier Rivera Afanador.

Although defendants, in most cases, are released from custody upon being found incompetent, the state probate court deemed Tappan “dangerous” and ordered him involuntarily, or civilly, committed to the State Prison’s Secure Psychological Unit.

In April, two new felony charges were added to the murder counts, the result of a prison fight in which Tappan allegedly fractured another prisoner’s face.

A Merrimack County grand jury in October indicted Tappan on the two charges of assault by prisoner.

In addition, Tappan faces four felony counts of robbery, which stem from alleged incidents in late 2016, a few weeks before he was arrested for Alfanador’s murder.

Two of the three prison phone calls played in court during last week’s hearing were with women, or possibly the same woman. In one, Tappan asked for colored pencils, and in the other, he and the woman discussed potential witnesses and the charges against him.

In the call with the man, Tappan appeared to refer to the alleged prison assault, telling the man “I’d take it back if I could … .”

Judge Charles Temple, who presided over last week’s hearing, will issue his ruling on Tappan’s competency in about two weeks.

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