BRENTWOOD, N.H. — A Plaistow man was convicted Thursday of 11 charges in connection with the severe beating of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son but was acquitted on a single charge of burning the boy.
Roland Dow was accused of assaulting the toddler, failing to get him medical help, coaching him to lie to a social worker and secretly recording the social worker's visit. A Rockingham County Superior Court jury convicted him Thursday on 11 of 12 charges after less than two hours of deliberations.
"He is very disappointed," defense attorney Thomas Gleason said of his client, who faces decades in prison.
Dow, 28, and the boy's mother, Jessica Linscott, were arrested at a Florida amusement park in November 2012, two weeks after leaving the toddler at a hospital with a brain injury that caused temporary blindness, head-to-toe bruises and burns on one arm and hand.
Linscott, 24, is serving 2 ½ to 7 years in prison for child endangerment and witness tampering.
During closing arguments, Dow's lawyers painted Linscott as a longtime liar who blames her ex-boyfriend for crimes she could have committed herself. A prosecutor countered that being an awful mother doesn't mean the woman is lying.
Defense attorney Scott Gleason told jurors Linscott's insistence that her son, James, scraped his hand during a fall and that she had no idea how he got burned didn't make sense.
"The evidence is just a constant drone, one after another, of untruths," he said, noting that Linscott often paused before answering questions and asked to see transcripts of her previous statements. "She's lying to you. And quite frankly, with all due respect, why are you any different? She lies. You're just next."
He described incidents in which Linscott falsely accused others before she met Dow, and reminded jurors that she described hitting her son with a spray cleaner bottle and once shoving him hard enough to send him "flying across the room." That shove could have caused the boy's brain injury, Gleason said.
Linscott testified that Dow physically and mentally abused her and treated her son "worse than a dog you don't want." She admitted spanking her son and participating in other harsh punishments but said she did so in part because she knew Dow's punishments would be worse. But Gleason said there was no evidence that Dow abused Linscott, while there was ample proof that Linscott abused her son.
"She has testified that she wants to be with her son, she wants to care for her son and she came to that recognition when she was in jail," he said. "That's just another way of saying what people say when they're in jail: I want to get out."
In her closing statement, Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway acknowledged that Linscott's failure to remove her son from the abuse nearly cost him his life. But, she said, "Despising someone and not believing someone are two different things, and being an awful mother does not mean she's a liar."
Conway reminded jurors of photos they viewed of James' injuries and videos showing the child whimpering in pain and crashing to the floor, while Dow is heard yelling at him to "Get up!" and "Stop having a fit!"
"You can hear the anger, you can hear the hatred and you can hear the rage he felt toward this little child," she said.
Infuriated by minor misbehaviors, Dow inflicted a "reign of terror" that included "torture sessions" in the bathroom, where James was forced to spend most of his time in the weeks before he was hospitalized, Conway said.
"Make no bones about it what this man did to that little boy was intentional," she said. "The abuse he committed against this child was nothing short of sadistic."
It's unclear how much the boy has recovered from his injuries. He lives with Linscott's mother, who declined to comment on the verdict, as did Dow's mother and other relatives.