MALONE — A Massena man accused of trying to kill police officers during a 2010 standoff will likely never face trial.
Michael J. Nelson, 38, was indicted on 13 counts, including attempted murder, attempted assault on a police officer and burglary, following a six-hour standoff in the Town of Brandon on Sept. 16, 2010.
He had allegedly led troopers on a chase from the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation to Walkerville Road, where he apparently broke into a camp, fired shots at the owner’s relatives and refused to surrender to police.
Several hours later, Nelson was shot in the shoulder when he allegedly aimed a .22-caliber rifle at two State Police officers.
He was initially found to be incompetent to stand trial in 2011 but was re-evaluated in April and found to be improved enough to assist in his own defense because he was taking anti-psychotic drugs.
During the past year, as Nelson was in Franklin County Jail awaiting trial, his condition worsened, and he was sent to the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy for treatment, said Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill.
Nelson improved while there and was returned to the jail but again deteriorated a few months later and went back to Marcy, the sheriff said.
Mulverhill notified District Attorney Derek Champagne in mid-July that officials at the Psychiatric Center reported Nelson “was not getting better, despite medications, and that the prognosis was he’s not getting better,” the DA said.
“Nelson was taken off the court calendar since he is not getting better, and there is a procedure to request a civil confinement.”
The director of County Public Health has to request a civil-confinement proceeding, where a hearing is held in the county in which the person is living, which is Oneida County now, he said.
Depending on the findings, Nelson can be held for six months.
The case is reviewed again, and if he hasn’t improved, he can be confined for a year. After that, his case is re-examined every two years.
“My impression is that it looks like he will be confined indefinitely and will not be able to get well and be eligible to withstand trial,” Champagne said.
“The best place for him is where he is now.”
Resolving the case may bring an added sense of closure for the troopers involved in the standoff.
“Most officers realized and appreciated that he was under mental duress at the time of the crime,” the DA said. “At one point, he was on the phone with 911 dispatchers and asked to speak to the State Police.
“He asked them to help him because the Spanish Armada was invading his camp,” Champagne said.
“There were a lot of red flags that day, and there was no doubt at the commission of the crime he was under mental duress and not criminally responsible.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: email@example.com