Attorney: DV was out of character

NASHUA – The spate of alleged domestic violence that resulted in the arrest over the weekend of Nashua resident Joseph Mendonca is “out of character” for the U.S. Army veteran, who served 3 1/2 years of active duty and has no criminal record, his attorney told a Superior Court judge Monday.

Mendonca, 22, of 122 Palm St., was in court for a bail hearing on charges that include one count of domestic violence-related second-degree assault, a Class B felony, along with three counts of simple assault – domestic violence and one count of criminal mischief, all Class A misdemeanors.

The charges accuse Mendonca of strangling a woman known to him and otherwise assaulting her, including allegedly striking her in the head, before allegedly taking her phone and “snapping it in half,” Assistant County Attorney Brett Harpster said Monday.

Harpster recommended Mendonca be held on preventive detention, but indicated he would convert the order to personal recognizance if Mendonca enrolled in an anger management course or a batterers’ intervention program.

“Something caused him to go out of control,” Harpster said.

“Given the charges, I believe preventive detention is appropriate” at least for the time being, he added.

Harpster said he attempted to contact the alleged victim for input on the case, but was unsuccessful, possibly, he said, because she may not have a working phone.

Attorney Sarah Amorin, a public defender who represented Mendonca Monday, asked Judge Jacalyn Colburn for personal recognizance bail, stating that if Mendonca is released from jail he would live with family members elsewhere in Nashua.

Mendonca “cooperated with police” and willingly handed over his firearms as requested, Amorin said. “He lives in Nashua, works in Nashua … he has no criminal record. This is very out of character for him,” she added, referring to the allegations.

Colburn ultimately agreed that it’s “probably unnecessary to hold you on preventive detention,” she told Mendonca in giving him personal recognizance bail.

Conditions include that he have no contact with the alleged victim, stay at least 100 yards away from her and live with his family elsewhere in Nashua.

Colburn also ordered Menconca to undergo a mental health evaluation at the Veterans Administration hospital.

Police said in a statement that officers were called to the scene of the alleged incident around 1 a.m. Saturday, and upon arrival spoke with the alleged victim who told them “she was choked, among other assaults,” police said.

They initially charged Mendonca with the four misdemeanor offenses, and added the felony assault charge after members of the department’s Special Investigations Division conducted an investigation.