Judge denies Nashua man's request to represent himself in homicide trialBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
December 10. 2014 10:06PM
NASHUA - A judge has denied a defendant's request to represent himself in his upcoming negligent homicide trial on charges related to the death of the man's son.
Nghia Huynh, 37, of 340 Main Dunstable Road, recently fired his attorney and unsuccessfully petitioned the court to represent himself.Huynh is facing charges of negligent homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated after he allegedly lost control of his car and caused a three-vehicle collision earlier this year in which his teenage son, Kobe Huynh, a passenger in the car, was killed.“I would like to represent myself because I believe in our justice system,” Huynh wrote in court documents, claiming that when all evidence is presented in court, there will be a fair and balanced outcome.This week in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Judge Jacalyn Colburn denied Huynh's motion.
The judge accepted defense attorney Sven Wiberg's motion to withdraw as Huynh's legal counsel. Wiberg said the attorney-client relationship with Huynh had broken down.In court records, Wiberg expressed “grave concerns” about Huynh's ability to proceed on his own.
“Counsel's experience in the case leads to the belief that Mr. Huynh may not meet the standards for either competency to stand trial or competency to represent himself,” wrote Wiberg. “It is apparent to counsel that (he) is unable to appreciate, much less follow, appropriate legal advice.”After Colburn ruled against Huynh, public defender Bonnie Sisak was assigned to defend him.
Court documents indicate a possible settlement was being negotiated earlier this year.
Wiberg had offered a deal involving a pleading of no contest to an aggravated driving while intoxicated charge with time served and a suspended prison sentence, in addition to treatment and community service.“My client and his family all seem to agree that this tragic matter should be resolved at the earliest opportunity,” Wiberg said in court documents.
The state offered a separate deal to Huynh this past summer, although it did not receive any counter-offer from the defense, according to court records.A settlement conference was held in October. The record of that hearing is under seal.
Court documents allege that Huynh was drunk on Feb. 21 when he drove a 1998 Mitsubishi 3000 southbound on Route 3 in Merrimack, lost control of the car and struck the median barrier. His vehicle then overturned and rested on its roof in the northbound lane, resulting in a second vehicle - a 2013 Hyundai sedan driven by Bernd Elsner - to strike the passenger side of Huynh's vehicle.Then, a third car - a 2011 Ford Focus driven by Patricia Poliquin - hit the passenger side of Elsner's vehicle.
Kobe, 14, was a front-seat passenger in his father's car, and was pronounced dead at the scene.Huynh's trial has been tentatively scheduled for Feb. 13.