Public shut out of evaluation hearing for man accused of stabbing city police officers

Competency hearing set for June.

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

Akwasi Owusu as seen during March 17 court appearance. 

MANCHESTER, NH — A Superior Court judge once again closed a hearing concerning the mental health evaluation of a 19-year-old city man accused of stabbing three Manchester police officers last year during a domestic call.

Mark Hayward, a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader, asked Judge David Anderson, presiding Monday at the hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, to open the hearing for Akwasi Owusu of 6 Ahern St. Owusu, who is charged with three counts of first-degree assault in the Feb. 4, 2020 incident that injured the police officers.

Defense Attorney Jillian Rizzo objected, saying the hearing concerns confidential information and should be sealed.

Hayward said the issue was of importance to the public since there is a question concerning whether those charged in the criminal system are receiving mental health treatment.

Anderson denied the request saying the court has held review hearings every few weeks in the case and a representative from the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester was present.  The hearing was then held out of the presence of the public. Owusu attended the hearing via video though his image was not visible, only his name appeared on the screen.

On March 16, 2021, Owusu appeared at another court hearing via video from the New Hampshire State Hospital where he was committed.  

He has since been released and is free on bail.

On March 30, 2021, he was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation. In his order, Anderson said that based on the representations contained in the state’s motion to determine Owusu’s competency and on the court’s observations, he determined that bona fide doubt exists regarding Owusu’s competency to stand trial.

The Office of the Forensic Examiner was ordered to conduct an evaluation and file a report with the court.  If Owusu is found not competent to stand trial, then the evaluator must include an opinion on his restorability to competence.  If the evaluator determines he is not competent and not restorable, then the report must include an opinion as to his dangerousness and whether there exists “a threat of, a likelihood of, an attempt to inflict, or an actual infliction of serious bodily injury to oneself or another or a lack of capacity to care for one’s own welfare such that there is a likelihood of serious debilitation if admission is not ordered.”

The competency hearing is set for June 30 at 10 a.m.

Owusu is accused of stabbing officers Brendan Langton, 26, Olivia LaCroix, 26, and Kevin Shields, 32.  If convicted on the felony charges, he faces an extended sentence of 10 to 20 years per count in the New Hampshire State Prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to court documents, Langton and LaCroix both suffered puncture wounds to the right sides, resulting in collapsed lungs and requiring hospitalization.

Shields had a one-inch cut to the forehead requiring three stitches to close.

According to the prosecutor, the knife went through the officers’ uniforms and protective vests, indicative of the amount of force Owusu allegedly used.

The incident happened about 3:20 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2020, when officers went to Owusu’s home on a domestic call.  Two days earlier, Owusu allegedly choked his older sister.