Manchester parolee charged with hammer attack in Nashua

·2 min read

Aug. 29—A man charged with robbing a man and taking a hammer to his face Saturday in Nashua was out on parole after serving a brief prison sentence related to a 2019 stabbing in Manchester.

Nashua police charged Jonathan Vargas, 34, with two Class A felonies, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, and a Class B felony of falsifying physical evidence, a charge usually brought when a defendant tries to dispose of evidence such as a weapon.

According to police, a man suffered extensive facial injuries when the assailant tried to steal his belongings. The victim was transferred from a Nashua hospital to a Massachusetts hospital in order to receive more specialized care, police said.

Vargas was out on parole for stabbing a man eight times in Manchester in 2019. The stabbing took place during a conflict that started with disparaging remarks about the victim's girlfriend, according to records filed in connection with that case.

He was already a convicted felon at the time of the Manchester assault. He was imprisoned on a weapons charge after a plea bargain called for a suspended sentence for the stabbing.

"Unfortunately, it is more common than people realize," said Nashua police Lt. Joshua Albert. "We're all working hard to do our part, and I don't think anyone is happy when someone violent is out on the streets."

Nicole Thorspecken, the first-assistant Hillsborough County Attorney for the Nashua court, noted that Vargas received a suspended five-year sentence in connection with the Manchester stabbing, and she will move to impose that sentence.

She also will ask a judge to order Vargas jailed before trial.

"We take these cases very seriously when there is a violent crime," Thorspecken said. The prosecutor said she didn't know the specifics of the Manchester case, so she couldn't explain the sentence.

According to court records, Vargas had convictions for armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and weapon possession in Massachusetts in 2011.

In July 2020, Vargas erupted during a court hearing, prompting Superior Court Judge Will Delker to question whether he should move forward with the plea bargain.

The following month, Delker approved a plea bargain that called for the two- to five-year sentence. He granted almost a year's credit to Vargas for time spent awaiting trial. It's unclear when he was released on parole.

mhayward@unionleader.com