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Bail remains at $50,000 in severe child beating case
OSSIPEE — The Albany man charged in the severe beating of the 2-year-old son of his ex-girlfriend pleaded not guilty during a court hearing Wednesday.
Superior Court Judge Steven Houran refused to lower the $50,000 cash or surety bail.
Justin Roy, 33, of 6 Odina Drive, Albany, was indicted April 13 on one count of first-degree assault, five counts of second-degree assault, two counts of kidnapping, one count of criminal restraint — all felonies — and two counts of misdemeanor-level simple assault. Roy has been held on $50,000 cash or surety bail since his arraignment in district court last month.
After hearing arguments, Judge Houran ordered the bail amount to stand. “My order is fundamentally the same as circuit court,” he said.
“The $50,000 concurrent, is the bare minimum I'm comfortable with,” Houran said, adding that while he acknowledged Roy has ties to the community, safety is a concern.
“My concern is for the safety of the community, and that is what leads me to do this,” he said.
If convicted of the most serious felony offenses, which come with extended-term sentences attached since they involve children under 13, Roy faces more than 100 years in jail. The extended-term felony offenses carry 10- to 30-year prison terms.
Court documents allege that Roy caused severe injuries to the 2-year-old boy sometime between the afternoon of Dec. 18 and the next morning. The boy, identified in a prior Union Leader interview with Roy as Strider, was flown by helicopter from Memorial Hospital in North Conway to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Court documents quote an emergency room nurse as saying this was the most serious case of child abuse he had ever seen.
The boy has since been released from the hospital and is recuperating from life-threatening injuries in the care of his biological father and grandparents in Maine, according to Victim Witness Advocate Program Director Melissa Smith. Roy is also charged with assaulting Strider's 7-year-old brother by sitting on his legs, and for squirting their 11-month-old baby brother in the face with the contents of a baby bottle.
Smith said the children are “doing good,” but it was “slow going” for a while with Strider. Smith met with the victims' family in Maine in an effort to make sure they get whatever they need, but that victims advocate programs differ in Maine. She said she believed community members in Maine were providing some assistance to the family.
After waiving the reading of the charges before Judge Houran on Wednesday, Defense Attorney Jenness argued the request to lower bail to $10,000 cash or surety on Roy's behalf. She said contrary to the argument that Roy had no ties to the community and that he was a flight risk, Roy's family has lived in the Mount Washington Valley region for generations. Roy's mother, who owns the mobile home Roy lives in, and his dad, who resides in Maine, were willing to house Roy. Her client was also willing to agree to a lengthy list of bail conditions, including having no contact with children and having weekly tests for drug and alcohol abuse. But she said he does not have the resources to participate in the program that provides ankle bracelets for defendants awaiting trial. She said Roy had a 10-year-old simple assault charge, and no history of violent crime.
She said Roy is not able to raise $50,000 cash bail and requested $10,000 bail that family members could raise. “They would put their money where their mouths are. We are asking the court to set bail at $10,000 cash or corporate surety, still an enormous amount of money, and is certainly substantial enough to assure Mr. Roy appears for court.”
Carroll County Attorney Thomas Dewhurst said Roy does pose a danger to children and the community, and that $50,000 cash or surety bail should stick due to the violent nature of these crimes, for which the court found probable cause to charge him with.
Dewhurst said when officers attempted to arrest Roy, he did not come willingly and had to be “coaxed” into turning himself in by his former lawyer.
“These alleged charges are crimes of severe violence. A minor child involved with the second- and first-degree assaults received life-threatening injuries and almost died as a result of the injuries. Also, Mr. Roy is a flight risk. After this incident in December, he went to his father's residence in Maine on two occasions, where when an arrest warrant was issued, he was not immediately forthcoming in surrendering,” Dewhurst said.
Jenness countered the flight risk allegation was a “red herring,” and that she didn't see anything in Roy's prior criminal history that showed he was a danger to children. She said Mr. Roy is “charged with a crime, but that didn't mean he committed the crime” and that he should be presumed innocent.
If Roy's family does raise bail, conditions would apply including that he refrain from drug and alcohol use, possess no dangerous weapons, stay away from the victims in the case and sign a waiver of extradition. In the interim, Roy is being held in the Carroll County Jail.
Houran added before the hearing concluded that the case would be fast-tracked and could potentially be heard by jury trial in July. A status conference would be held in June.
In a related case, the victim's mother, Heather Downs, has since been charged with one count of felony witness tampering and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
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