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March 22. 2013 12:58AM

Bartlett mother in child assault case reaches plea agreement

OSSIPEE - The Carroll County Attorney's Office has reached a plea agreement with the mother of Strider Downs Skidgel, the 2-1/2-year-old who was assaulted by his mother's boyfriend so severely that he was in the hospital for several weeks and survived three surgeries.

Heather Downs, 33, of Bartlett, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of felony witness tampering and one count of endangering the welfare of a child during a brief hearing in Carroll County Superior Court in Ossipee. The county attorney's office dismissed three other counts of child endangerment, according to county attorney Robin Gordon.

Gordon said an hour-long sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 8 at 10:30 a.m.

Downs was living with Justin Roy, 34, at his mother's mobile home in Albany with her three children until the early morning hours of December 19, 2011, when, after a night of drinking, Roy took Strider out to the shed and caused life-threatening injuries to the boy's abdomen. Roy was also convicted on simple assault charges for sitting and jumping on Strider's older brother's legs, and for squirting the 11-month-old baby in the face with the contents of a baby bottle.

Roy, who faces more than 100 years in jail, will be sentenced April 2.

The witness-tampering indictment against Downs' alleged that she told her older son, Zander, then 7, to withhold testimony or information by asking him not to tell the police what he knew concerning what happened to Strider at the house.

The charge is a Class B felony punishable by up to a 3½- to 7-year jail term. The child-endangerment charge alleged that Downs did not bring Strider to the hospital in a timely fashion. Strider, who has since recovered from his injuries, and his younger brother, Gallagher, are in the care of their biological father and grandparents in Maine, with the older boy in the custody of Downs' parents.

Downs testified as a state's witness in the week-long Roy trial.


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