Toddler police say was assaulted by mother dies
Devon Gould had remained in critical condition at Massachusetts General Hospital since April 26 with a serious brain injury, significant head trauma and intercranial bleeding. His mother, Unique S. Gould, 21, of 8 Ash Court, was arrested and charged with first-degree assault, accused of repeatedly striking the boy on the buttocks and head the night before, according to court documents.
"The family was there by his side and decided to do the humane thing - what the medical professionals were recommending - and pulled the vent tube," said Christopher Smart, Unique Gould's uncle. "We had an extensive prayer chain going on."
Devon, who turned 2 on March 16, had been on full life support with a breathing and feeding tube for exactly two weeks.
The boy's father, whose name has not yet been released, decided to remove the life support and try to wean the child, understanding that the outcome might not be favorable, according to Smart.
"He was able to breathe on his own for almost six hours," Smart said of Devon. "He was showing signs that his lungs were fine, and they thought he might be able to be strong enough. But now, my family has been devastated."
Jeffery Strelzin of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office said Saturday that no upgraded charges have been filed against the mother, Unique Gould. However, Strelzin said the case is still under investigation. He also confirmed the death of the little boy.
"I am not going to be shocked if (the charges) are upgraded. I leave the judgment to the judicial system, as I will not judge my own niece," Smart told the Sunday News on Saturday. "Part of me hopes that she is innocent, but you know what, time will tell."
In an email to the Sunday News, Jane Young, also of the state Attorney General's Office, said her agency will continue to work with the Nashua Police Department to determine whether, based on all of the evidence, additional charges are warranted.
In a tragic and unfortunate coincidence, Devon's great-great grandmother - who has been on her deathbed in Florida for several days - also died on Friday.
"Two deaths in one day has not been easy, but he has his great-great grandmother with him in heaven. We know he is pain free now, and we know that she is watching over him," said Smart.
The family, he added, still has many unanswered questions about what led up to Devon's fatal injuries.
"We are just trying to hang in there. He was a very happy boy whenever the family saw him," Smart said of Devon. "He loved monkeys. He would just light up when he saw them."
According to a police affidavit on file at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division, an AMR ambulance arrived at the Gould residence on April 26 after Unique Gould was having trouble waking her son.
Devon was initially taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and eventually to Massachusetts General Hospital because of the severe brain injury, according to court documents.
Police have not elaborated on the case, but court records indicate that Gould was interviewed by two detectives, at which time she allegedly acknowledged spanking her son on April 25, the day before emergency crews arrived at her home.
"She admitted that she struck (him) numerous times on his buttocks and confirmed that she also struck him in the head with her hand. Gould made admissions that she 'blacked out' at one point, and admitted to hitting (him) very hard," according to a police affidavit filed by Detective Marc Anderson.
Police have refused to comment on whether Gould may have been impaired at the time of the alleged assault, given her statement to authorities about possibly blacking out during the incident.
She will be back in court on Monday for a probable cause hearing. In the meantime, Gould is being held on $100,000 cash bail.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized. A fund that was previously established to help pay for Devon's medical expenses will now be used to cover the costs of the funeral, according to Smart. If there is any remaining money, Smart said, it will be given to a child abuse advocacy program.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Shawne Wickham contributed to this report.