BRENTWOOD — Jessica Linscott, a Plaistow mother charged with failing to protect her 4-year-old son James from abuse, faced a double dilemma yesterday.
First, Judge Marguerite Wageling denied the 23-year-old’s request to have phone and personal contact with the young boy during a bail hearing in Rockingham Superior Court.
Then, Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino announced in court that Linscott and her boyfriend, Roland Dow, could face felony witness tampering charges.
The couple is accused of manipulating the boy by telling him what he should say — a conversation captured on video — before he was interviewed Oct. 23 by a representative from the state Division of Children, Youth and Families.
Dow, 27, faces up to 95 years in prison if convicted of hitting the little boy and burning his wrist and fingers. The boy suffered a severe head injury that led to seizures and temporary blindness. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon and hospitalized for three weeks.
Linscott, shackled and dressed in a prison jumpsuit, did not speak publicly during the half-hour hearing, part of which was held in private at the bench.
Before the hearing, Wageling, attorneys and two social workers met for a half hour in the judge’s chambers to discuss details of the case pertaining to the child.
Public defender Deanna Campbell asked that Linscott’s bail conditions be amended to allow contact with her son, but Wageling ruled only letters would be allowed. The letters would be read to James by a therapist and copies shared with the prosecution, the judge said.
The boy, who is living with his maternal grandmother, continues to be a ward of the state and may be called as a witness during his mother’s trial June 3.
The abuse case made national news in November after Linscott and Dow dropped the injured boy off at Exeter Hospital. The couple agreed to surrender to police, but hid in Haverhill. Then they went to Boston, took a bus to New York and a train to Florida.