AMESBURY — A Melrose man charged with stabbing a state trooper on Interstate 495 two years ago was found not guilty for lack of criminal responsibility following a bench trial Wednesday in Lawerence Superior Court, according to an Essex County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson.
Nathan Aguilar was arrested Dec. 12, 2019, after stabbing Trooper Steven Torosian several times in the arm as he sat in his cruiser at a highway construction site in Amesbury.
On Wednesday, Judge Jackie Cowin found Aguilar not guilty due to lack of criminal responsibility after two experts, one aligned with the DA’s Office and one hired by Aguilar’s defense team, came to the same conclusion. A lack of criminal responsibility can mean a defendant cannot distinguish right from wrong.
The decision drew a swift rebuke from the State Police Association of Massachusetts, which called it a “sad day” for law enforcement and Torosian.
“The State Police Association of Massachusetts is deeply concerned with a bench trial that lasted less than half a day. Nathan Aguilar being found ‘not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect’ is a failure of justice … plain and simple,” a statement from the state police union read.
The troopers association went on to state that Aguilar planned his attack, disguised himself and “violently entered” the trooper’s cruiser.
“This was an unprovoked and planned ambush that resulted in the medical retirement of Trooper Torosian. How is this not premeditation?” the statement reads. “Troopers go to work each and every day with the understanding that we may not return home and that our loved ones could receive a knock on the door that they dread. All we ask is that the other members of our legal system defend us, like we defend each member of the public.”
Despite being seated in his cruiser and stabbed several times in the arm, Torosian was able to draw his pistol and fire a shot at Aguilar’s chest. Aguilar fell to the ground in the right travel lane, and Torosian kicked the knife out of his grasp, according to state police.
Police said Aguilar was wearing a hat with a mask that covered his face, tan pants and a reflective vest. Without warning, he opened the cruiser door and made several stabbing motions toward Torosian’s torso before Aguilar was shot.
Torosian sustained numerous cuts to his left arm and was taken to Lawrence General Hospital, where he was treated and released that afternoon, according to state police. The trooper was assigned to the Andover state police barracks.
Aguilar was flown to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of the gunshot wound. In June 2020, he was indicted by a Salem Superior Court grand jury on charges of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault and battery.
Torosian was one of a dozen police officers given Trooper George L. Hanna Memorial Awards for Bravery by Gov. Charlie Baker last month.
“His immediate actions most likely saved his life as well as those of the unsuspecting construction crew working only a few feet away from him,” a state police statement issued the day of the awards ceremony read.
“In addition, recognizing that the suspect had been wearing a high-visibility traffic vest during the assault like that of a construction worker, Trooper Torosian had the forethought to broadcast that description over the radio to alert other detail cruisers i
The Daily News