Probable cause found for two in Concord torture case
Daniel Tyler Cantrell
More gruesome details surfaced yesterday in the case of an 18-year-old Concord man who was allegedly tortured by relatives and an acquaintance numerous times in the past month, though it’s still unclear what could have motivated the actions.
At hearings for two of the defendants, Amy Nason and Daniel Tyler Cantrell, in Concord’s district court, Judge Kristin Spath ruled there was probable cause for their cases to go before a grand jury, sometime in the next three months. Christine Gelineau, the victim’s 52-year-old mother, waived her right to a probable cause hearing yesterday, though she maintains her innocence, said her attorney, Brooksley Belanger.
All three have been accused of repeatedly torturing the 18-year-old and of pressuring him to tell authorities his wounds were self-inflicted. Testimony yesterday by two detectives involved in the investigation largely verbalized what has previously appeared in written affidavits, including claims that Gelineau burned her son’s penis, that Cantrell broke his ankle and burned off his nipples, that Nason pressured him to ingest worms, liquid dish detergent and various bodily fluids.
“This is something that . . . I don’t even know what to say this was – unbelievably bad torture,” said prosecutor Tracy Connolly, while arguing against reducing Cantrell’s bail. “This just keeps getting worse, and jail is the only place for him to ensure society’s safety.”
The victim’s cousin
Nason, the alleged victim’s 29-year-old cousin, sat quietly during her hearing as Connolly and her attorney, Jonathan Cohen, disputed whether she was a perpetrator or in fact a victim in the case.
Detective Nicole Murray testified that the 18-year-old had originally told the Concord police his wounds were self-inflicted, though he hadn’t fully explained how or why he would have done many of them. Parts of his story began to change in a subsequent interview, she said, and eventually he told officers that he was tortured by all three defendants, including Nason.
According to Murray, the man said Nason had also instructed him to lie to the police about who caused the wounds, to refrain from showing them his chest or taking pictures and to bring back a document proving the police were finished investigating the matter. When later questioned about this, Nason acknowledged having given those instructions, Murray said.
Murray also said the man told the police he had a good relationship with Nason, and that he forgave her for assaulting him, for forcing him to consume worms, liquid dish soap and bodily fluids, and for making him stick vegetables up his anus. Murray said he told the police that on many occasions he had looked to Nason for approval before consuming many of these substances, and that she had told him to do so explicitly to avoid more severe repercussions.
The man also told the police that Nason had thrown a cell phone at his head, punched him in the head and gut, and directed Cantrell to break both his ankles if he didn’t stand upright all night.
In addition, Murray said the man reported that Nason and Cantrell were having a sexual relationship, and that he had been forced on one occasion to drink semen from a condom they had used.
Lawyer: Nason a ‘victim’
On cross-examination, Cohen painted a different picture of the events over the past month and the living situation at the family’s Modena Drive townhouse. He described Nason as having been trapped in the house and terrified of Cantrell. He indicated that Nason had told the police that Cantrell had threatened to kill her and bury her remains in Tennessee.
“My client frankly was a victim in this case, not a defendant,” Cohen said. “She was stuck in that house, terrorized by the co-defendants, specifically Tyler (Cantrell). My client was simply doing her best to keep the complainant from being subjected to further violence.”
Cohen also suggested that the alleged victim has a history of disturbing and violent behavior. He talked about allegations made by Gelineau in police interviews that her son had regularly assaulted her, grabbing her breasts and threatening to rape her. He said the 18-year-old had, on his own volition, eaten his feces on a road trip the family took to Florida earlier this year, during which they met Cantrell in Sparta, Tenn., and brought him back to New Hampshire to live with them. Cohen said the victim had threatened to sexually assault Nason’s 12-year-old daughter and harm others in the neighborhood.
Connolly, on redirect, questioned why the man didn’t just leave a seemingly unsafe situation.Murray answered that the 18-year-old had told the police he had nowhere else to go. Connolly asked whether he had any known mental disorders, to which Murray said no, not that she knew of. She said his high school had listed him in general education courses and that, according to officials there, he had no special requirements or needs.
Cohen then brought up the incident in which the man was allegedly forced to stay up all night, asking Murray why his client would want that to happen. Murray said she didn’t know.
“Why would anyone do any of this?” Connolly then said. “There is no answer. It’s unfathomable.”
During Cantrell’s hearing, Concord police Detective Wade Brown described the man’s various burns as “horrific.” Both his nipples, which the police say Cantrell has admitted to burning, had been charred to the point that only blackness remained where they once were, he said.
Brown said the man told the police that Cantrell had choked him until he blacked out on several occasions between April 10 and 14. He also said Cantrell had broken his ankle by twisting his foot until he heard a popping sound, and that Cantrell broke his nose and forced him to eat a microwave pizza topped with worms.
Brown said Cantrell admitted to the police that he hit the man numerous times, and that he had bound his hands on one occasion so that Gelineau could burn her son’s penis with a lighter.
According to Brown, Cantrell corroborated the alleged victim’s account that he and Nason were having a sexual relationship, adding that she is or was pregnant with his baby. Brown said Nason flatly denies both those claims.
Brown also testified that the family’s townhouse was “immaculate” – “probably one of the cleanest apartments I’ve seen,” he said – and that Cantrell had been “cooperative and polite” when taken into custody. He added that there was no indication that any of the defendants had been abusing alcohol, drugs or other controlled substances during the events in question.
Toward the end, Cantrell’s attorney, John Draghi, requested that his client’s bail be reduced from $200,000 to personal recognizance. Connolly contended that, given the allegations, the defendant was a severe threat to the community.
“At a minimum, $200,000 is warranted,” she said.
The judge agreed.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319,
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)