Judge reduces bail for father accused in Penacook infant’s death

  • Bradford Ross appears in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord for a bail hearing June 15, 2017. Ross faces manslaughter and negligent homicide charges in the methamphetamine death of his 2-month-old son. ALYSSA DANDREA / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, June 15, 2017

A father accused in the methamphetamine death of his 2-month-old son in Penacook will remain behind bars, although on reduced cash bail, a judge ordered Thursday.

Judge John Kissinger Jr. denied Bradford Ross’s request to be released on personal recognizance bail under the supervision of county pre-trial services. Instead, Kissinger reduced Ross’s bail from $100,000 cash-only to $50,000 cash or surety. If Ross posts bail, he will be monitored by pre-trial services to ensure compliance with court orders.

Ross, 25, was charged last month with negligent homicide, manslaughter and prohibited contact in the death of his 2-month-old son, Cayden Ross, on Aug. 1. The boy’s mother, Kayla Austin, is out of jail on the same charges.

The state medical examiner determined that Cayden died of methamphetamine intoxication. Toxicology tests revealed methamphetamine in the infant’s blood and liver.

Authorities said drugs were in the travel camper where the family lived. Police initially arrested and charged Austin and Ross in early August with one count each of possession of methamphetamine, possession of amphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, as well as two counts each of endangering the welfare of a child. Those charges are also pending in Merrimack County Superior Court.

During Thursday morning’s bail hearing, defense attorney Tracy Scavarelli told the court that Ross actively engaged in drug treatment, including a 28-day program at the Farnum Center, following his August arrest. She said that he wants to continue to better himself and is open to a structured release program, which includes regular drug testing, random home visits and a curfew, as well as individual and group counseling.

Scavarelli argued that Ross is not a danger to the community or a flight risk, noting that his criminal record is not violent. She said past charges against Ross stemmed from his substance abuse disorder.

Deputy County Attorney Catherine Ruffle said she strongly disagreed with Scavarelli that Ross is a candidate for release on personal recognizance bail, given his history of noncompliance with court orders.

Ross was previously released on pre-trial services on the felony drug charges, but in April tested positive on separate occasions for amphetamine and methamphetamine, Ruffle said. He also failed to appear for a weekly appointment in May.

Further, she noted, Ross’s participation in the Farnum program was in December, before his relapse and his arrest on the charges stemming from his son’s death.

While Kissinger said he wanted to credit Ross for his participation in drug treatment, he could not ignore Ross’s “troubling” conduct this past spring. He said he didn’t believe personal recognizance bail was appropriate given the seriousness of the latest homicide charges.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)