Judge: Newport man not competent for trial in White River Junction hotel shooting

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-03-2023 5:45 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Newport, N.H. man accused of shooting a hotel guest in the face last fall may not be competent to stand trial, a judge overseeing the criminal case in Windsor County Superior Court said Thursday.

Nathan-Mikheal Fuller, who has been charged with second degree attempted murder and other counts in the alleged shooting of a Massachusetts worker who was staying at the Comfort Inn in White River Junction, appears “not presently competent to stand trial,” Superior Court Judge John Treadwell said from the bench following a sidebar conference with the prosecutor and Fuller’s defense attorney on Thursday.

The private sidebar with the judge was called by Windsor County Attorney Ward Goodenough at the outset of a competency hearing for Fuller, who police reported asserted “there is a problem in China,” “the Pope should be calling you” and “when God tells you to do something you do it” after he was apprehended and in custody following the Oct. 7, 2022, shooting.

Fuller, now 26, whom witnesses said they had seen with a handgun on the hotel premises in the early morning hours of the shooting, is alleged to have shot Massachusetts worker Mike LaMotte in the face shortly after he had emerged from his room for breakfast, according to court documents.

LaMotte, who was part of a work crew that had traveled to the Upper Valley to install an artificial turf field at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, suffered life-threatening injuries in the attack but survived.

There was no apparent connection between LaMotte and the alleged shooter in what co-workers described an an inexplicable, random act of violence.

In addition to second-degree attempted murder, Fuller also has been charged with aggravated assault with a weapon and reckless endangerment.

Fuller was known to police in both Newport and Claremont as an person exhibiting odd behavior — during a welfare check by Newport police prior to the alleged shooting, Fuller made statements about “mutilated bodies” at his residence and neighbors reported him “acting crazy from methamphetamine use” — and police were aware that Fuller possessed firearms, according to an affidavit prepared by Hartford police in support of Fuller’s arrest.

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After the brief sidebar conference in court on Thursday, Treadwell said for the record that it involved “discussions about proceedings in another division that are nonpublic” and that a “report has been received and the report indicates the defendant is not competent to stand trial.”

Fuller was last reported as being held without bail at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., but a search on the state Department of Corrections’ online inmate locator database shows that a Nathan-Mikheal Fuller was released from the Springfield prison on Jan. 13.

A spokesperson for the DOC said Fuller had been moved “to a Vermont facility with augmented treatment options.”

The court previously ordered that Fuller be administered evaluations for both competency and sanity — which are separate evaluations — and Fuller’s court docket shows that a sealed “psychiatric evaluation” was submitted on Jan. 17.

Treadwell added that another competency hearing will be scheduled in the coming weeks to “have a discussion on whether there is additional evidence that needs to be offered on the issue of competence, or not” and that if the court makes a finding that Fuller is not competent to stand trial then a “commitment hearing” must be held within 15 days.

An attorney for Fuller did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

LaMotte, a native of Lowell, Mass., and father of three young children, has had two facial surgeries since the shooting, and doctors have informed family members he has lost use of an eye and suffers from a traumatic brain injury, according to a page set up by LaMotte’s family to raise money to pay for the expenses of his recovery.

Despite his injuries, LaMotte is “doing miraculous,” said Rob Delmonico, co-owner of R.A.D. Sports, the Rockland, Mass., artificial turf company for whom LaMotte worked. His field installers typically go on hiatus during the winter, he said.

“We sure hope he’s back with us in the spring,” Delmonico said.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.

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