Plaistow mother, boyfriend face witness-tampering charges in abuse case
Jessica Linscott, 23, now faces the prospect of state prison time after first being charged with six misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Her boyfriend, Roland Dow, 27, is headed to trial next month on charges of first- and second-degree assault for allegedly striking 3-year-old James Nicholson in the head and burning the boy's wrists and fingers.
The couple's latest troubles came to light during a bail hearing for Linscott Wednesday morning. Linscott and Dow remained on the run for two weeks beginning in late November until they were apprehended by U.S. Marshals at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.
Judge Marguerite Wageling denied a request by Linscott on Wednesday to have phone and in-person contact with her son.
Wageling decided that Linscott will be able to write letters to her son, but they first must be sent to county prosecutors before being passed on to the boy's therapist. Prosecutors say they obtained a computer video file that recorded Dow and Linscott talking to the boy on Oct. 23 just prior to a well-being check by a worker from the Department of Children, Youth and Families.
"Roland Dow and Jessica Linscott are speaking at different times," said Michael J. Zaino, assistant Rockingham County attorney. "The conversation ranges over lots of topics, but (includes) very specifically what he is allowed to say, what he is not allowed to say. He is not allowed to say he knew she was coming. It ranges from whether he gets bloody noses, whether he gets spanked, this takes up a span of 20 minutes."
Part of Wednesday's hearing was determined to be non-public by Wageling. Instead of holding the hearing in chambers, she called lawyers, Linscott and a witness to the bench. Wageling spent several minutes talking to the witness called by the defense, and then had lawyers make their arguments in open court. State law allows for matters concerning the Division of Children, Youth and Families to be shielded from the public.
Linscott and Dow are expected to each face two counts of witness tampering for the computer video recovered by investigators. Zaino said the file was recovered while executing a search warrant for a computer.