DOVER – Emotions ran high as a Somersworth man appeared in court Monday after he allegedly "recklessly smothered" his girlfriend's son at the start of Father's Day weekend.
Jared Pope, 30, of 231 High St., Apt. 2, was charged with manslaughter after reporting to authorities that Noah York, 2, was choking "on some meat or milk," according to Geoff Ward, an attorney with the N.H. Attorney General's Office.
Ambulance crews transported the toddler to Wentworth Douglas Hospital in Dover where he was later pronounced dead.
Ward said hospital staff used X-rays to determine there was no obstruction. He said Pope later "admitted he was involved" in the death, which has been ruled a homicide.
Pope, who has been held at Strafford County jail since his arrest, was arraigned via video conferencing this morning in 7th Circuit Court, Dover District Division.
Judge Stephen Morrison entered no plea for Pope, as he is facing a felony charge, and he scheduled a probable cause hearing for June 28 at 10 a.m.
Based on the severity of the offence, circumstances surrounding the incident and past history, Ward recommended bail be set at $250,000 cash only with the conditions Pope have no contact with the Somersworth woman or any child.
"This is not an accident," Ward said. "This is not an accidental smothering."
Ward, who would not comment on a motive, said Pope was living with his girlfriend and the child. He would not provide further details about their relationship or comment on other charges as the case remains under investigation.
Ward said Pope allegedly swaddled the toddler – who is not his son — in a blanket and tied the child down with rope "because the child was fussing."
After the child continued to cry, squirm and scream, Ward said Pope allegedly wrapped the child in a sheet, placed a pillow on top of the toddler – who was face down – and "pinned down" the boy with a duffle bag which weighed 15 to 20 pounds.
Ward said Pope, who was alone with the child, said he left the toddler alone for about 5 to 10 minutes. Ward said the toddler's injuries showed the child attempted to get free.
"The initial lies are an issue," Ward said, who added Pope allegedly hid the evidence by moving the blankets, rope and duffle bag he used to smother the child into his own room.
An autopsy was conducted at the state Medical Examiner's Office Saturday.
Ward said this was not the first time Pope had allegedly restrained a child, although it was to a lesser degree in the past. He said the boy appeared to have rope marks on his arm from previous incidents.
Should Pope make bail, Judge Morrison set conditions that Pope must not use drugs, have any weapons and refrain from using alcohol. Before being released on bail, Pope must also sign a waiver of extradition and be monitored by Strafford County Community Corrections Program via GPS.
Attorney Cynthia Robinson of the N.H. Public Defender's Office did not argue against the bail but mentioned Pope may want to re-address the no-contact order with minors in the future as he has "biological children."
When asked, Ward would not provide details about the ages, status or whereabouts of Pope's biological children.
"I'm not going to get into his other children," Ward said.