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Nashua man claims self-defense in EMT's stabbing death

Union Leader Correspondent

October 19. 2011 6:16PM

NASHUA -- The man accused of killing a local EMT told police he was acting in self-defense after a group of about five people allegedly charged him during a roadside confrontation earlier this month.

Matthew Packer, 19, of 36 Carlene Dr., admitted to authorities that he took out a six-inch pocket knife, but only after being punched in the ear on Oct. 9 during a fight outside of 13 Spruce St.

During a probable cause hearing on Wednesday at Nashua District Court, the head detective in the murder case told a judge that Paul Frontiero III, 27, died after allegedly being stabbed by Packer 16 times, including one puncture to the heart.

Other vital organs, including his left lung, left kidney, diaphragm and spleen were damaged from the knife wounds, according to Det. Daniel Mederos.

The altercation began when a friend of Frontiero's yelled "Captain Crunch!" at a car Packer was traveling in. Packer told police he asked the driver, Zachary Jensen, to turn around the vehicle after the words were yelled.

According to witness testimony provided to police, Packer then exited the car and said, "You wanna start something, I'll cut you," Mederos said during the court hearing.

Before invoking his right to counsel, Packer told police that "several individuals began charging at him," according to Mederos, who said Packer claimed that he was struck in the ear and then got out his knife in self-defense.

Jensen told police he tried apologizing to the group for his friend's behavior, and that he witnessed Packer make several stabbing and punching motions toward Frontiero and two females who were in the group, Jill Arnold and Kathryn Libby, both 29, of Nashua.

Arnold suffered superficial wounds on her neck, while Libby suffered more severe injuries such as multiple slashes to her face, arm, back and rib cage. She is still recovering.

Arnold told police a different version of events that night, maintaining that Packer got out of the car and asked if they wanted to fight. He then approached her and put what felt like a knife to her throat, said Mederos, adding Arnold told police that none of her friends had any weapons.

Frontiero, she told police, tackled Packer only after the altercation began and Packer allegedly pulled the knife on her, Mederos told the court.

After leaving the scene, Jensen told authorities that Packer was "elated and excited" following the stabbing, telling people that he "just sticked a bunch of people," said Mederos.

Jensen arrived at the police station to tell police what happened the day after the stabbing, learning on the news that one of the victims had died. Jensen led police to Packer, who was hiding out at a relative's house in Wareham, Mass.

Police located a bloody football jersey hidden inside of a basement ceiling tile in Packer's residence, and a pair of bloody jeans in a backpack he had while at the relative's home.

During questioning, Packer told Mederos that when he was hit in the ear, he snapped and lost control.

"He advised that he was bipolar," Mederos said, adding Packer claimed he was not taking his medication because he could not afford it.

Packer, who appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles, is being held without bail charged with two alternative counts of second-degree murder alleging that he knowingly and recklessly killed Frontiero.

Frontiero worked for EasCare Ambulance Service out of Dorchester, Mass., and was training to become a paramedic. He planned to leave for the Dominican Republic this week for his second medical mission trip.

Frontiero's mother, Cathy Frontiero of Gloucester, Mass., said previously that her son died a hero, and that he was trying to save the two women from possibly being killed.

The judge found probable cause on Monday, and now the charges will be transferred to Hillsborough County Superior Court for possible indictments.

Two other people have been arrested in connection with the case. Packer's brother, James Packer, 21, of 16 Carlene Dr., and Rosemary Chevez, 18, of 23 Eastern Ave., Amherst, have been charged with hindering apprehension for allegedly helping Matthew Packer elude capture following the stabbing.

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