Abuse defendant says search was illegal
BRENTWOOD — A Plaistow man charged with abusing his girlfriend's 3-year-old son contested on Friday the search of his home computer, which led police to finding videos of the boy allegedly being coached by him about what to say about his injuries.
The hearing on Friday dealt with key evidence against Roland Dow, 27, who is charged with first-degree assault, making illegal recordings of the boy, and other charges related to the abuse that prosecutors say occurred over three days in November. The boy, James Nicholson, 3, suffered burns and bruising to his face, forehead, hands, buttocks, leg and back.
His mother, Jessica Linscott, 24, is expected to go on trial later this month in Rockingham County Superior Court on child endangerment charges for allegedly failing to seek medical attention for her son. She is also charged with witness tampering for taking part in the coaching before a home visit by a child advocacy worker on Oct. 23 and as an accomplice to making the illegal recordings, prosecutors said.
Defense lawyer Tom Gleason argued on Friday that police went beyond the scope of their search warrant for Dow’s Dell desktop computer by making a “mirror” copy of the hard drive.
“You are taking in an entire universe of information,” Gleason said in court on Friday.
Gleason also suggested the search violated his client’s rights because it went beyond the seven-day time frame that police were allotted to look for evidence.
Police obtained a warrant for the couple’s Main Street apartment in Plaistow on Nov. 16, and obtained a second warrant specifically for the computer on Nov. 20, according to Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino.
But police did not discover the computer videos of Nicholson on the mirror copy of the hard drive until early January, days after the warrant expired.
Zaino said the second warrant allowed police to seize “all files, documents and hard drives.”
“We were granted permission to go through everything on the computer,” Zaino said. “It is impractical to get that search done in seven days.”
Gleason likened the hard drive search to a situation where police came to the courthouse looking for drugs in the building, yet seized everything inside in building during their search.
Judge Marguerite Wageling asked Gleason how the police in Dow’s case acted any different than authorities who seized a trove of documents while investigating a theft then spent days examining what was collected.
Wageling suggested it would seem an impossible expectation for police to comb through every paper document within seven days of the search warrant being valid.
“And after those seven days, you would have to close the book and can’t look at it anymore,” Wageling said.
Gleason said he believed the computer search still amounted to an unreasonable search and seizure.
Prosecutors have requested that the abuse charges and ones concerning the illegal recordings be consolidated into one trial.
The defense has until early next week to object to consolidating the cases into a single trial.
Wageling said she expects to reach a decision within in the next couple of weeks.