Sep 16, 2015 8:25 PM
Attorney for man who burned, beat toddler argues before NH Supreme Court
CONCORD - Justices at the New Hampshire Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of a Plaistow man who burned and beat his ex-girlfriend's three-year-old son, before the couple ditched the toddler at Exeter Hospital and fled to Florida.
Charles Keefe, an attorney for Roland Dow, told the high court that testimony from Jessica Linscott about the abusive relationship between them should not have been admitted as evidence in court, saying it caused an unfair prejudice, casting him in the light of the sole perpetrator of crimes against the child.
"She admitted to being involved in much of the abuse, participating in it, and committing her own acts of abuse against her son," Keefe said after arguing before the court.
According to prosecutors, the child was sprayed in the face with water and made to run laps, before suffering a brain injury that forced the couple to bring him to the hospital.
Keefe also argued that the trial court should not have allowed the expert witness testimony of Scott Hampton, the executive director of Ending the Violence in Dover. He said jurors treat such testimony "as gospel."
"The expert testimony in this matter compounded the trial court's error in this instance because in addition to highlighting the testimony that Jessica gave regarding the alleged abuse, what it did was, it further demonized Mr. Dow," Keefe said.
Attorney Heather Cherniske argued the testimony of both Linscott and Hampton were permissible under the rules of evidence. She said jurors needed the information they provided to understand why the woman participated in the torture.
"She didn't know why she participated in the abuse," Cherniske said. "She was the victim of domestic violence and lacked the edification to understand what she was going through at the time."
Cherniske said the boy, who has since recovered, suffered from "horrific" abuse, including hitting that was hard enough to leave bruises, on a regular basis.
Linscott pleaded guilty to child endangerment and witness tampering in 2013.
Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.