Trial date set for Albany man accused of beating boy
OSSIPEE - With no sign of a negotiated plea agreement on the table, a superior court judge on Thursday scheduled a trial date for a former Albany man accused of seriously assaulting his ex-girlfriend's son last year.
The defendant, Justin Roy, attended a mid-morning pre-trial hearing, held before Judge Steve Houran in Carroll County Superior Court. Attorneys Wade Harwood and Howard Clayman of the New Hampshire Public Defenders office in Laconia represent him. Deputy County Attorney Susan Boone is prosecuting the case for the Carroll County Attorney's office.
Jury selection was set to begin on Jan. 22, with a trial start date on Jan. 23. Houran approved a motion for a viewing of the trailer park in Albany where the assaults are alleged to have occurred. Jurors will view the site before opening arguments on Jan. 23. The trial is expected to take six to seven days. Before setting the date, Judge Houran confirmed with the attorneys that there was "no indication of a negotiated plea" and no need to extend the plea deadline.
Roy, 34, has been held on a combined $50,000 cash bail since his arrest and arraignment on numerous charges of assaulting the three sons of his ex-girlfriend, Heather Downs. He was indicted 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. The most serious charges allege Roy caused life-threatening injuries to Downs' 2-year-old son. Roy was arrested following a three-month investigation.
If convicted of the most serious felony offenses that 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.
At Thursday's hearing, the judge granted Boone's request to allow a grandparent of one of the victims to accompany the boy in the courtroom while he testifies so he would have a friendly, familiar face in the room. Defense attorneys submitted a list of 21 prospective witnesses, including state police investigators, the county's victim's advocate, and representatives from NH Health and Human Services and the NH Division of Children Youth and Families.
According to court documents and affidavits filed in the case, Roy allegedly caused life-threatening injuries to then-2-year-old Strider Downs Skidgel by beating him and locking him in a cold woodshed and in a dog crate outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures between Dec. 18-19, 2011. After his mother came home and realized something was wrong with the child, she took him to Memorial Hospital in North Conway, where the child was then flown by helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, due to the life-threatening extent of injuries. The child suffered blunt force trauma, internal bleeding, a ruptured bowel and a bruised pancreas. He required surgery for his internal injuries, according to court documents.
Roy faces assault charges against Strider's older brother, Zander, now 9, for allegedly pushing him and causing him to hit his head on a coffee table, and a separate assault charge for squirting the contents of a baby bottle onto the baby brother, Gallagher Downs, who turns 2 later this month.
The children are in the care of family members.
Heather Downs has been charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and witness tampering. The state Division of Children, Youth and Families conducted an investigation in the case and found Downs negligent in January 2012 for failing to protect all three children.