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Former Massena man ruled not fit for trial for Skerry standoff with state police

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MALONE - A man currently confined to a psychiatric ward at Marcy Correctional Facility will not face a trial for charges stemming from an alleged 2010 incident where he broke into a camp in Skerry and fired at least two dozen shots at New York State Police troopers, District Attorney Derek Champagne said.

Michael Nelson, 39, if facing one count of first-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree burglary, four counts of menacing a police officer, and one count of criminal mischief.

“We’ve been advised the housing facility is going ahead with civil confinement,” Mr. Champagne said. “He’s not fit to proceed, period.”

He said civil confinement means a defendant will be remanded to the custody of a psychiatric hospital. They file paperwork to have the person confined for six months and if the patient doesn’t improve, they petition to keep them for another year, then every two years after that.

Nelson was represented by Public Defender Thomas Soucia, who at the time of the standoff stated Nelson suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

“They just filed the paperwork for the first six months,” Mr. Champagne said.

He said the hospital’s report indicates that Nelson is not getting any better, despite treatment and medication.

Nelson was arrested after a Sept. 16, 2010 hours-long standoff with state police. He was discovered in s seasonal camp is Skerry by agents of the camp’s owner checking in on the place. State police responded to the camp and a shot was fired, according to a news release.

At the scene, troopers saw Nelson inside the camp and set up a perimeter with the help of U.S. Border Patrol officials. Nelson left the camp armed with a rifle and walked down the driveway to the road, where he was seen with a thermal imager. At the time, BCI Capt. Robert LaFountain said troopers James Cleary and Kevin Beattie observed Nelson and ordered him to drop his weapon. When he failed to comply, both troopers shot at him with issued weapons, one trooper with a .223 rifle and the other with a Glock handgun. Capt. LaFountain said Nelson fell to the ground and was quickly apprehended and administered first aid. He recovered from the wound at Albany Medical Center under 24-hour armed guard.

Nelson had no fixed address at the time and is believed to have been born out-of-state. He testified at a 2010 hearing that his last address was 18 Park Street, Massena.

In March 2007, Nelson was charged with fifth-degree welfare fraud for reportedly taking $249 in temporary welfare assistance from St. Lawrence County, Gouverneur village police said. He later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in Canton Village Court, the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office said.

He was charged with second-degree criminal trespassing in April 2007 by Ogdensburg city police following a complaint from a Lisbon Street resident. Ogdensburg City Court officials had previously stated the case was sealed.

agardner@mtelegram.com

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