Hearing set for Heissenberger

Competency evaluation to decide whether he will stand trial

  • Thomas Heissenberger

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, April 04, 2016

A Hancock man who allegedly pointed a gun at a police officer during a standoff and later stated in court that he needs “psychiatric help” will be evaluated by the court.

Thomas Heissenberger, 22, will have a hearing May 24 at the Hillsborough County Superior Court North to determine if he is able to stand trial. If Judge Gillian Abramson finds Heissenberger is not, she can order he receive psychiatric treatment to “restore competency.”

Heissenberger is on trial for felonies of criminal threatening and reckless conduct. He was arrested on Dec. 5, 2015, after an incident at the baseball fields at ConVal High School. According to police, Heissenberger allegedly aimed a 9mm semi-automatic pistol at Officer Christopher Martin of the Peterborough Police. Martin had responded to ConVal High School to assist a “distraught” man whose station wagon was stuck in the mud, according to court documents. When Martin approached the vehicle, he said Heissenberger brandished the pistol, and shouted at Martin to “back up” and “leave,” according to court documents.
Martin retreated to his cruiser, ordered back-up, drew his firearm, and began negotiating with Heissenberger.

“[I] feared for my life at the time,” wrote Martin in an affidavit. “I was unable to draw my firearm or protect myself in any way without escalating the situation.”

Heissenberger allegedly fired a warning shot into the ground. Martin said that when he asked Heissenberger why, he replied, “Because this is how I keep control,” according to court documents.

The confrontation ended after Heissenberger put down the pistol, and Martin tackled him. Martin said Heissenberger attempted to fight back, prompting another officer to use a Taser.

Martin said he smelled alcohol inside the station wagon.

Heissenberger and Brian Civale, a public defender, plead in court that Heissenberger needed psychiatric treatment.

Civale filed a motion March 10 to determine Heissenberger’s competency. Judge Kenneth Brown then ordered Heissenberger be evaluated. The hearing about the evaluation will be May 24. 

According to RSA 135:17-a, if Heissenberger is found unable to stand trial, “the court shall order treatment for the restoration of competency unless it determines, by clear and convincing evidence, that there is no reasonable likelihood that the defendant can be restored to competency through appropriate treatment within 12 months.” Heissenberger could be treated at a state mental health system or secure psychiatric facility.

Heissenberger was originally charged with misdemeanors of resisting arrest and criminal mischief. The prosecution chose March 25 not to charge Heissenberger with either misdemeanor. The March 28 case status hearing for these charges was canceled. 

Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228, or brosen@ledgertranscript.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenjiRosenMLT.