NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — More than 18 months after being charged with beating his girlfriend — who died a month later — a New Hampshire man was sentenced to two years of probation Wednesday in Newburyport District Court.

John C. Keraghan, 37, of Kensington pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a family/household member and was ordered to stay away from all witnesses and the family of the victim, Heather Blair, according to court records.

Blair's mother, sister and best friend, Kristen Prescott, read impact statements to the court during the sentencing hearing Wednesday, according to Prescott. She said more friends and family would have been there if not for COVID-19 restrictions at the courthouse.

"There was a whole army who wanted to come in," she said.

Prescott said she was disappointed Keraghan avoided a more serious charge but didn't cast blame on prosecutors.

"There should have been more done," Prescott said. "But everybody did their job and did everything they could."

Keraghan was arraigned in September 2019, more than six months after Blair died at a Boston hospital. While a medical examiner's report listed her cause of death as "undetermined," medical records released by the hospital showed she recently suffered multiple rib fractures.

That, along with text message records between the two and testimony from family and friends, strongly suggested Blair had sustained injuries in the months leading up to her death, according to authorities.

Based on those results and after interviewing Keraghan, Newbury police Detective Sgt. Aaron Wotjkowski applied for a criminal complaint, according to court records.

Keraghan attacked Blair on Feb. 1, 2019, according to court records. On March 2, she was found unresponsive at her Byfield home.

After Keraghan tried to revive her, paramedics took over and transported her to Anna Jaques Hospital. A day later, she died at Boston Medical Center.

Keraghan and Blair had been watching television at her home on the night of March 2, according to Wotjkowski's report.

At one point, Keraghan left the room for a few minutes only to return and find Blair not breathing. Following advice from a 911 dispatcher, he attempted to revive her using CPR.

"Concerns related to the circumstances related to her death were brought to the attention of the police due to bruising that was present on (Blair's) body," Wotjkowski wrote in his report.

During the investigation's initial stages, Blair's cellphone was turned over to police by her mother after finding "concerning messages and images located within."

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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