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Prosecutor: Plaistow man treated boy like an unwanted pet

  • Roland Dow, center, gets ready to leave the courtroom for the lunch break Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Roland Dow, center, gets ready to leave the courtroom for the lunch break Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Roland Dow, left, talks with his attorney Thomas Gleason Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is  accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Roland Dow, left, talks with his attorney Thomas Gleason Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showed jurors a photo of the boy as a happy, energetic toddler and another showing his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind during opening arguments against Roland Dow in Rockingham County Superior Court Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is  accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showed jurors a photo of the boy as a happy, energetic toddler and another showing his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind during opening arguments against Roland Dow in Rockingham County Superior Court Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Roland Dow, center, gets ready to leave the courtroom for the lunch break Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Roland Dow, center, gets ready to leave the courtroom for the lunch break Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showed jurors a photo of the boy as a happy, energetic toddler and another showing his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind during opening arguments against Roland Dow in Rockingham County Superior Court Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is  accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showed jurors a photo of the boy as a happy, energetic toddler and another showing his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind during opening arguments against Roland Dow in Rockingham County Superior Court Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Roland Dow, center, gets ready to leave the courtroom for the lunch break Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • Roland Dow, left, talks with his attorney Thomas Gleason Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is  accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • Prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showed jurors a photo of the boy as a happy, energetic toddler and another showing his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind during opening arguments against Roland Dow in Rockingham County Superior Court Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is  accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • Roland Dow, center, gets ready to leave the courtroom for the lunch break Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • Prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showed jurors a photo of the boy as a happy, energetic toddler and another showing his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind during opening arguments against Roland Dow in Rockingham County Superior Court Tuesday June 10, 2014 in Brentwood, N.H. Dow is  accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

A man accused of severely beating and burning his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son treated the toddler like an unwanted animal, a prosecutor said yesterday, but his lawyer said the state’s case relies entirely on the word of the boy’s lying, abusive mother.

Roland Dow, 28, of Plaistow faces a dozen charges alleging he assaulted James Nicholson, now 5, failed to get him medical care and instructed him to lie to child welfare workers. He and the boy’s mother, Jessica Linscott, are accused of abandoning the child at a hospital in November 2012 and fleeing to Florida, where they were arrested two weeks later at the Universal Studios theme park.

Linscott pleaded guilty last year to witness tampering and endangering her son’s welfare and was sentenced to at least 2½ years in prison. Dow’s trial began yesterday in Rockingham County Superior Court, with prosecutor Kirsten Wilson showing jurors a photo of James as a happy, energetic toddler and another depicting his injuries: head-to-toe bruising, a burned hand and a brain injury that left him nearly blind.

“How did he go from this, to this?” she asked, holding up the photos in turn. “He moved in with the defendant.”

Wilson described Dow as a controlling man who resented any attention Linscott gave her son, whom he referred to only as “the toddler” or by various insulting nicknames. Before the trial began, fellow prosecutor Pat Conway unsuccessfully asked the judge to allow testimony alleging that Dow wrapped James in a blanket and restrained him in bed, and then forced him to sleep in the bathtub if he had an accident. Wilson said Linscott will testify that Dow treated her son “like a pet no one wanted” and that when James, because of his injuries, would “seize up” and hold his body stiffly, Dow would hit him and tell him to stop.

Wilson said jurors may dislike Linscott, who will testify that she was a “horrible mom” who should have stopped the abuse, but that they should believe her.

“Despising someone and not finding them credible are two different things,” she said. “Don’t get lured into believing this is a popularity contest between the defendant and Jessica Linscott.”

Defense attorney Thomas Gleason countered that Linscott has a history of lying about her own behavior and making false accusations against others when she feels threatened, and that significant questions remain about who caused James’s injuries. Linscott also told her son to lie to child welfare workers, he said, and then she abandoned him at the hospital and fled.

“The evidence will show that this is the person upon which the state’s whole case hinges, (someone) who would do this to her own son,” he said.

While Linscott initially told the police neither she nor Dow hurt the boy – she said James hurt his hand falling in the bathroom – she changed her tune when told she would not be charged with assault if she implicated Dow, Gleason said.

“Being threatened at the time . . . she throws the last person close to her in her life under the bus,” he said. And after she reached a deal with prosecutors, she admitted spanking James, putting him in the shower as punishment and shoving him hard enough that he went “flying across the room.”

Gleason reminded jurors that prosecutors bear the burden of proving his client’s guilt.

“Keep an open mind,” he said.

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