April 02. 2013 9:53PM

Roy gets 55 years for near-fatal beating of boy

Special to the Union Leader


OSSIPEE— The man convicted in the near-fatal beating of a toddler will spend up to 55 years in state prison.

"For the emotional and physical pain he caused to my son and family, I believe Justin Roy should serve life for the scars and emotional damage my son will carry for life," Edward Skidgel Jr., said through sobs at the 34-year-old Roy's sentencing hearing in Carroll County Superior Court Tuesday.

Roy was charged with taking his then-girlfriend's son, Strider, 2 1/2 at the time, into a work shed in the middle of the night and beating him, causing life-threatening injuries to his abdomen, and bruises and burns to other parts of the boy's body in December 2011.

Strider and his brother, Gallagher, are now in the custody of Skidgel, their biological father, and living with grandparents Lanette and Larry Grant in Maine.

Roy, formerly of Albany, was also convicted of assaulting Strider's older brother, Zander, who was 7 at the time, by jumping on his legs and pushing him into a coffee table. Zander is living with his maternal grandmother and step-grandfather in New Hampshire.

While he did not take the stand in his defense during trial, Roy addressed Judge Steven Houran prior to sentencing.

"I never wished the children ill will; they didn't deserve what they got," he said, adding that there were "a lot of things not touched on" during the trial. "There is a lot more to this story that needs to be brought out."

"This has been a living nightmare. Never in a million years I thought I would find myself in these shoes," said Roy.

Prosecutor and Deputy County Attorney Susan Boone requested a sentence of 27 to 64 years; the defense recommended 12 to 25 years. After Roy's statement, Boone said Roy was declaring himself a victim.

"The defendant may not appreciate how close he came to the death penalty if that little boy had died," she said.

The victims' mother, Heather Downs, has pleaded guilty to one count of endangering a child and one count of witness tampering. She testified for the state during Roy's trial. She is scheduled to be sentenced April 8.

Roy, represented by public defenders Wade Harwood and Howard Clayman, was found guilty Feb. 4 on a total of 10 counts, including felony kidnapping, criminal restraint and first- and second-degree assault.

Judge Houran said Tuesday one statement during the trial particularly struck him. The morning after the assaults, in a response to a text message, Roy stated he had "snapped this morning but I didn't hurt anyone."

For the simple assault charge involving Gallagher, Houran sentenced Roy to one to two years; he was given credit for 364 days time served. A second simple assault charge alleging he kicked Strider in the buttocks came with a one- to two-year jail term. Roy will serve three to six years on two second-degree assault convictions for jumping on and pushing Zander into a coffee table. Those two sentences will be served consecutively.

The most serious assault charges involve Strider. Houran sentenced Roy on two counts of kidnapping, each with a 7 1/2- to 15-year term, to be served concurrently. And for one count of first-degree assault against Strider, Roy was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison.

Roy is forbidden to have contact with children under 18. Boone said Roy would be required to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

If Roy remains on good behavior and completes all recommended classes or treatments, he may be eligible for parole after 22 1/2 years. The maximum jail term is 55 years.

Roy's mother, Rita Roy, said Tuesday that Bedford-based attorney Shawn Sweeney has been retained to pursue an appeal of the conviction.