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Plaistow mom gets plea deal in her child's abuse, will testify against boyfriend

Union Leader Correspondent

July 16. 2013 8:42PM

Jessica Linscott appears in court in this March file photo. 

BRENTWOOD — A Plaistow mother began serving a 2½- to seven-year prison sentence Tuesday after a surprise plea hearing in which she admitted to failing to seek medical care for her 3-year-old son while he was allegedly beaten by her boyfriend.

Jessica Linscott, 24, pleaded guilty in Rockingham County Superior Court to felony witness tampering and four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

After bringing her son, James Nichols, 3, to Exeter Hospital, Linscott and her boyfriend went on a cross-country flight to avoid police, which ended with their capture on Nov. 28 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.

Linscott is now expected to be called as a state witness to testify at the upcoming trial of her boyfriend, Roland Dow, 27, of Plaistow.

But Judge Marguerite Wageling noted Tuesday that Linscott's testimony was not mandated as part of her plea agreement.

Wageling chastised Linscott for her lack of action last fall when burn marks and bruises appeared on her son, saying that only the negotiation process by her public defender and the county attorney's office saved her from a much harsher sentence.

"You likely would have been sentenced to the maximum term allowed by law," Wageling told Linscott. "What you did to your child, as you know, was more than unacceptable. While I fully understand you have been dealing with guilt and grief over what you did, I am glad you stepped forward and accepted responsibility."

Wageling said the abuse was unlike anything she has seen in her last two decades in the criminal justice system.

"You deserve every day of your sentence," she told Linscott.

The deal was struck the same day Linscott was to inform the judge whether she would go forward with a trial.

Linscott is serving a state prison term for the witness tampering conviction for instructing her son on Oct. 23 to tell a state child advocacy worker that he does not get nose bleeds, spankings or yelled at.

She received a suspended 12-month county jail term for the four counts of child endangerment charges for repeatedly failing to seek medical attention for her son between Nov. 12 and 14. Linscott has already served 230 days in county jail awaiting trial.

County prosecutors agreed to drop one other witness tampering charge, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and a misdemeanor count of being an accomplice to making illegal video recordings of her son.

The videos are serving as a key piece of evidence for county prosecutors, who want to use them against Roland Dow. He is expected to go on trial later this year on first-degree assault and other charges for allegedly beating and burning Nicholson, then coaching the boy on how to respond to questions about his injuries.

Dow allegedly captured the so-called coaching sessions using a computer camera.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Dow appeared in court Friday to contest the police department's search of his home computer, which led to the discovery of the videos.

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