EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 10, 2012

Bad trip: LSD-fueled camping foray goes badly awry

Face bite, Tasering, arrests in Andover woods

By Jonathan Phelps and Bill Kirk, Staff writers
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — ANDOVER — As if she were modelling, Amanda Norcia pulled back her long hair to offer a better view of the right side of her face.

But what she was displaying to a Lawrence District Court judge was the angry red mark impressed into her cheek when she says her boyfriend bit her face during a drug-infused, predawn “hook-up” at a secluded Andover campsite.

Norcia, 20, of Floyd Street, Everett, called police around 3:15 a.m. yesterday from inside a car to report that she and boyfriend Brendon Gibson, 24, of 3102 Harvest Drive, North Andover, were on drugs and that Gibson had gone running into the woods after biting her and she feared he would return, according to a police report. She said she couldn’t say exactly where they were.

“They were high taking LSD and during this time the defendant bit her on the face and she stated he tried to take the skin away from under her eye,” Assistant District Attorney Beth McCarthy said during the couple’s arraignment yesterday afternoon.

Norcia’s call prompted a nearly two-hour police search.

“Norcia stated that she was in the vehicle, that Mr. Gibson had run off into the woods, and that she is very afraid that he was going to come back,” Patrolman Eric Milligan wrote in his report.

The couple were found by Tewksbury and state police around 5:15 a.m. at Serio’s Grove Reservation. Andover police responded shortly thereafter.

Gibson, who was naked and covered in feces at the time police found him, became combative and was pepper-sprayed and Tasered twice by Tewksbury police, according to Andover Lt. Commander James Hashem.

Gibson was charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute, assault and battery on a household member, assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, trespassing and mayhem. He was transported to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment and was returned to police custody around 10 a.m. yesterday.

During the couple’s arraignment yesterday afternoon, Judge Michael Brooks ordered Gibson held on $5,000 cash bail. If he meets bail, he must stay in home confinement with a monitoring bracelet, remain drug free with random screenings and not further abuse the victim.

McCarthy pushed for $25,000 cash bail along with the conditions because of the severity of the incident.

The prosecutor cited Gibson’s combativeness when confronted by police and the bite mark he left on Norcia’s face.

When the judge said he couldn’t see the bite mark, Norcia pulled her hair to one side and with a slight smile gestured with her handcuffed hands to the large, red wound on the right side of her face, with impressions of teeth etched into her skin.

Norcia was charged with possession of heroin and trespassing. Brooks released her on personal recognizance. She could not be reached for comment after the arraignment.

McCarthy said Norcia told police that she and Gibson had gone to the secluded conservation area to “hook up.”

Norcia told police they lifted up a chain and a metal bar to get into the property. She said the drugs were provided by Gibson, who gave her “three hits” of LCD by placing it on her tongue, according to the report.

Police also found five individual bags of what was believed to be heroin on a nearby picnic table, according to the report.

McCarthy said Gibson has serious “superior court time” on his record, including charges of armed assault to rob, armed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

“I see this ultimately as being a case of trespass and resisting arrest,” said Jeffrey Wilson, the court-appointed attorney for Gibson. He argued the other charges won’t stand and Norcia has indicated she does not wish to prosecute Gibson.

“This is a case where clearly from the police report and the information the police gathered, this man was on some substance and running naked in the woods,” Wilson said. “Mayhem, assault of a police officer require specific intent, this man was incapable of forming that intent.”

Sergio’s Grove, a 19-acre town-owned conservation parcel, is not easy to find. It is on the Shawsheen River off Lowell Junction Road about a half mile east of Interstate 93

The campground has amenities that include a portable toilet, a pavilion-like structure, four fire pits, numerous picnic tables and two boat launches. Yesterday, clothes, pillows and other items were spotted scattered across the property.

According to the Andover Trails Guide, published by the Andover Village Improvement Society (AVIS), the campsite is available for “supervised family camping, led by Conservation personnel.” It is also available to community groups like Boy and Girl Scout troops with advance permission.

Hashem said Gibson and Norcia did not have permission to use the property.

For about 90 minutes early yesterday morning police attempted to pinpoint the couple’s location using the woman’s cellphone, but she was confused and the terrain was difficult, making it hard for police to locate them. Police originally reported that the couple had become lost in the woods.

Tewksbury and State Police accessed the woods from the end of Pine Cone Lane, while Andover police entered from Lowell Junction Road. The pair were eventually found by police near railroad tracks and the Shawsheen River.

Hashem said Gibson was “under an extreme influence of unknown drugs.”

In addition to heroin, police said, other unidentified drugs were found on Gibson.

“We’re not sure what they ingested,” Hashem said. “It seems to be a combination of heroin and LSD.”

Gibson was to return to court today for a court-appointed counsel; Norcia is to return on Oct. 11 for a pre-trail hearing.