BRENTWOOD — A man accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son treated the toddler like an unwanted animal, a prosecutor said yesterday, but his lawyer said the state's case relies entirely on the word of the boy's lying, abusive mother.
Roland Dow, 28, of Plaistow faces a dozen charges alleging he assaulted James Nicholson, now 5, failed to get him medical care and instructed him to lie to child welfare workers. He and the boy's mother, Jessica Linscott, are accused of abandoning the child at a hospital in November 2012, then fleeing to Florida, where they were arrested two weeks later at the Universal Studios theme park.
Linscott pleaded guilty last year to witness tampering and endangering her son's welfare. She was sentenced to at least 2 ½ years in prison. Dow's trial began yesterday in Rockingham County Superior Court, with prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showing jurors a photo of James as a happy, energetic toddler and another depicting his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind.
"How did he go from this, to this?" she said, holding up the photos in turn. "He moved in with the defendant."
Wilson described Dow as a controlling man who resented any attention Linscott gave her son, whom he referred to only as "the toddler" or by various insulting nicknames.
Before the trial began, fellow prosecutor Pat Conway unsuccessfully asked the judge to allow testimony alleging that Dow wrapped James in a blanket and restrained him in bed, and then forced him to sleep in the bathtub if he had an accident.
Wilson said Linscott will testify that Dow treated her son "like a pet no one wanted" and that when James, because of his injuries, would "seize up" and hold his body stiffly, Dow would hit him and tell him to stop.