NH1 Investigates Wrongfully Convicted? Part 2: Supporters of Chad Evans speak out
BERLIN - Two N.H. state representatives are trying to re-open a murder case that sent a man to prison for 43 years-to-life for killing his girlfriend's toddler.
Chad Evans was convicted of killing 21-month-old Kassidy Bortner more than a dozen years ago, but he has maintained his innocence - and now he has the support of two state lawmakers as well as a private investigator.
NH1 News met with Chad Evans on Tuesday at the Berlin Correctional Institution.
"No. I did not kill Kassidy," he said. "She was just playing in the cab of the truck, and the window happened to be down, and she fell out it. It's a horrible accident situation."
Prosecutors had shown Kassidy with bruises all over her body, but Evans said those were a result of accidents, including one he said that played a major role in her death.
Two N.H. state representatives recently introduced a resolution in the state legislature that asks the state Department of Justice to review the case. The House has postponed a vote on the measure, and now the representatives - Republican Max Abramson of Seabrook and Democrat Dick Patten of Concord - want to meet with Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Abramson said the jury was not aware that Kassidy had a undiagnosed congenital heart defect and that 10 days before her death, she had fallen out of the truck of her babysitter, a man with a lengthy criminal record.
Private investigator Morrison Bonpasse, said if the jury had known about that fall and about Kassidy's health issues, they wouldn't have found Evans guilty.
"He had no motive," Bonpasse said. "He never abused children. In fact, he didn't believe in corporal punishment."
NH1 News asked why he believes Evans was wrongfully convicted.
"The first rush to judgement was by the police and the prosecutors who said this was a murder," he said. "They should have looked more carefully at Kassidy's health."
Bonpasse also places blame on Evan's lawyers saying they never should have agreed it was a murder and that they should have had Evans testify, among other things.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin refutes these claims.
"We have reviewed many claims made by Evans and his investigator over the years and none cause any real doubt that Evans is guilty,” Strelzin said.
Kassidy's family also sticks by the jury's decision. According to Kathy Jackson, the family "stands by the work done by law enforcement and the investigation done by the Attorney General’s office. We believe that the correct person is incarcerated for the injuries that caused her death.”
In the meantime, Evans said he remains optimistic he will get a new trial, and his lawyer is planning to ask a Superior Court judge to re-examine the case.
As for Kassidy, this year she would have been 16 years old.