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Alexandria man faces life in jail for toddler's murder

By BEA LEWIS
Union Leader Correspondent

September 19. 2017 9:08PM
Tommy Page looks on during closing arguments in his murder trial in Grafton County Superior Court on Tuesday. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

NORTH HAVERHILL — An Alexandria man is facing life in prison without parole after a jury convicted him Tuesday of killing a toddler. The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for two hours and 40 minutes before finding Tommy Page, 30, guilty of first-degree murder.

Page closed his eyes and bowed his head briefly as the jury foreman announced the verdict in Grafton County Superior Court. He will remain held without bail pending sentencing.

During closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury that 11-month-old Shawn Sylvester was abused, poisoned and beaten to death during a time-frame when Page was home alone with him.

“And you know what he was doing to him, as he was sick enough to document it,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley.

During the six-day trial that concluded on Monday, the jury was shown deleted photographs recovered from Page’s cellphone that depicted the abuse.

Faced with explaining how the pornographic images ended up on their client’s cellphone, the defense team used an unusual tactic — telling jurors that Page was guilty of abusing the victim. But they insisted that Danielle Sylvester, Page’s girlfriend and the mother of the child, was the killer.

Throughout his closing statements, defense attorney James Brooks focused on inconsistencies in Danielle Sylvester’s testimony. He laid out a scenario in which Sylvester flew into a rage after being unable to fill her prescription at the drug store and arriving home to discover the toddler had soaked her bed with urine.

“She can change her story all she wants but the awful truth is that Shawn Sylvester died at the hands of his mother,” Brooks said.

The state, however, asserted it was Page who repeatedly lied to investigators, telling them the child hit his head on the bedpost as he was dressing him, on the faucet while he was bathing him and when pressed by police, that he’d gone to sleep and the tot fell down the stairs.

The child died from blunt-impact trauma to his head two days after he was rushed to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

“This isn’t a whodunnit as the defense has tried to make it out to be,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Hinckley told the jury.

“This finger-pointing is simple misdirection from what really occurred. She was not a perfect mother, or a perfect person. But it doesn’t make her a mother who doesn’t love her child. This isn’t a trial on parenting skills, it’s a murder trial.”

Hinckley said Page went out of his way to be alone with the child and was the only person with him in the time-frame in which his injuries occurred, according to expert testimony from doctors and a pathologist.

Page was charged with alternate counts of first- and second-degree murder, as well as falsifying physical evidence and administering a controlled substance.

The state’s theory of the case was that Page fed the boy buprenorphine, an opioid, to prevent him from resisting the sexual assault. The prosecutor told the jury that Shawn Sylvester weighed 23 pounds and was just 30 inches tall, and stood about knee-high to the 210-pound Page.

“He washed Shawn’s battered, bruised and barely breathing body and placed it in the crib for his mother to discover,” Hinckley said of Page’s efforts to conceal his crime.

To convict Page of first-degree murder, the judge instructed the jury that they must find that the state proved that he caused Sylvester’s death, before, after or during the commission of felonious sexual assault and that he did so knowingly — that he was aware of the nature of his conduct, not that he intended the result.

The jury found Page guilty of falsifying physical evidence, but acquitted him of administration of a controlled drug.


Courts Crime Alexandria


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