Prosecutors weigh calling 5-year-old as witness in Plaistow abuse case
BRENTWOOD — A Plaistow man who went on the run to Orlando, Fla., with his girlfriend after he was suspected of abusing her 3-year-old son is now contesting whether the boy can testify through Skype or closed-circuit television instead of appearing before a jury.
Prosecutors said they are weighing whether to call 5-year-old James Linscott as a witness, saying they question whether he can bear the emotional toll of testifying in front of Roland Dow.
Dow, 28, of Plaistow faces about a dozen charges including first- and second-degree assault for allegedly abusing the boy between September and November 2012. “(James Linscott) was beaten to the point where he almost lost his life,” Assistant County Attorney Pat Conway said in a court motion.
James Linscott suffered first-degree burns on his wrist and arm, second-degree burns on his hand, a brain injury and loss of vision, according to hospital doctors.
Prosecutors say they have not yet decided whether to call the child as a witness during the trial, and have concerns about him, “suffering severe emotional trauma as a result of testifying in the same room as the defendant.”
If the boy is called to testify, prosecutors will propose that he sit in the judge’s chambers or in another empty courtroom. The defense would still be allowed to cross examine him through the television screen, according to a court motion.
Defense lawyer Thomas Gleason asked Judge Marguerite Wageling to turn down the state’s request, or to have a hearing to consider whether they have enough to show that the boy would be traumatized by testifying in front of his client.
Wageling is expected to consider the matter at a hearing next week.
Dow could face decades in state prison if he is convicted on all charges. He was also indicted last month on charges that he took part in assaulting and threatening a 42-year-old detainee at the county jail.
The boy’s mother, Jessica Linscott, 25, of Plaistow pleaded guilty in July to felony witness tampering and four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
She is now serving a 2 ½ to 7 year prison term.
Dow and Linscott went on the run in November 2012 after her son was taken to Exeter Hospital to be examined. Linscott told doctors her son was suffering seizures brought on by self-inflicted injuries.