BRENTWOOD, N.H. (AP)— A New Hampshire woman charged with failing to get help for her beaten and burned 3-year-old son also coached the boy on how to talk to a social worker about spankings and bloody noses just weeks before he was hospitalized, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutor Michael Zaino said authorities have recovered a video of the Oct. 23 prepping 23-year-old Jessica Linscott and her boyfriend gave the child for 20 minutes before the arrival of a social worker who was checking on him. Three weeks later he was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury and burns to his wrist and fingers and his mother and Roland Dow fled the state. They were arrested two weeks later at a Florida theme park.
"They go over specific incidents — bloody noses and whether he gets spanked," Zaino said. He said the video was recovered from a computer in the Plasitow apartment they shared.
Authorities allege Dow, 27, beat and burned the boy and Linscott failed to get him the medical attention he needed for several days, despite seizures and other symptoms he was exhibiting. She is charged with multiple counts of child endangerment.
Linscott, who is being held on $100,000 bond, appeared in Rockingham Superior Court Wednesday hoping to regain some contact with her son, James. But Zaino strenuously objected and told the court he intends to file witness tampering charges against the couple.
"She has demonstrated previously an attempt to coerce this child into what's disclosed and what's not disclosed," Zaino said. He noted that the boy, now 4, is a potential witness in the case.
Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling refused to grant Linscott permission to speak by phone to her son, but said she could write letters that the boy's therapist could review and share with the boy if she thought they were appropriate. Wageling also ordered that prosecutors receive copies of any letters that are sent.
Police say Dow struck the boy in the head hard enough to cause traumatic brain injury and seizures and burned his wrist and fingers in November. He pleaded not guilty in December to multiple assault and other charges and remains in custody on $500,000 bail. His trial is scheduled for April 29.
Linscott's lawyer said Wednesday she brought her son to the hospital Nov. 14. He was transferred immediately to the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth. Defense attorney Deanna Campbell said Linscott when to CHAD Nov. 15, met with police and a child social worker there and signed paperwork to legally place James in the care of her mother.
"What happened after that was inexcusable and unexplainable," Campbell said, of the couple fleeing the state and making their way to Florida. U.S. marshals tracked them down at Universal Studios and arrested them without incident.
Campbell noted that Linscott had a black eye when she was arrested in Florida, adding, "She's not the same person she was in that relationship."
"She's 100 percent invested in turning her life around," Campbell said.
But Wageling said there has to be more history of Linscott's progress before more contact is allowed. "When you're dealing with a child, it's hard to unring bells," Wageling said
Prosecutors filed a notice with the court several weeks ago in Dow's case, saying they intend to bring in an expert on domestic violence to tell jurors about "the patterns and trends of victims regarding their non-disclosure of hesitancy to disclose the violence." The notice signals that Linscott may testify against Dow. Zaino Wednesday would not confirm that, saying, "Nothing is certain."
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