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Defense points finger at mom in Alexandria tot's murder

Union Leader Correspondent

September 11. 2017 8:46PM
Tommy Page, on trial for the murder of an 11-month-old boy, confers with his public defenders in Grafton County Superior Court on Monday. (BEA LEWIS/CORRESPONDENT)

NORTH HAVERHILL — A lawyer defending an Alexandria man charged with murdering an 11-month-old boy said Tommy Page wasn’t responsible for the killing, but told jurors Monday they would be “disgusted, repulsed and horrified” by what his client did to the victim.

Page, 30, is facing alternate counts of first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter among other charges in connection with the Nov. 13, 2015, death of Shawn Sylvester, the son of Page’s former girlfriend, Danielle Sylvester.

“You are going to meet Shawn’s killer during this trial. She’s going to get up here and lie to you,” said public defender Jay Duguay in his opening statements.

“There is no question he was in fact killed, but there is a question as to who killed him and to who drugged him. The answer to those questions is Danielle Sylvester,” Duguay said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoff Ward, however, identified Page as the killer, saying he crushed the boy’s skull and snapped his right arm and left leg.

“We will never be able to comprehend the unspeakable horror that this child underwent,” Ward told the jury.

The state has charged that Page drugged the boy to keep him from resisting and then killed him either before, during or after abusing him.

The prosecution showed the jury two of 14 pornographic images found on Page’s cellphone, which they allege document the abuse.

Monday marked the opening day of the trial, which is expected to last 10 days. The state is scheduled to call as many as three dozen witnesses.

After a morning hearing outside the earshot of the jury, Page agreed to stipulate that he has a prior federal conviction. As a result, the state does not have to show proof of his record at trial.

The benefit for the defense is that it will keep the jury from learning that Page was previously found guilty of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. But if found guilty of giving the victim suboxone, the prior conviction will make Page subject to a harsher sentence.

Page had a prescription for suboxone.

Judge Lawrence MacLeod Jr. scuttled the defense team’s efforts to solicit testimony suggesting Danielle Sylvester had motive to kill her son.

The defense had sought to introduce testimony that Sylvester refused to refer to her son by name, agreed to have family members assume care for the baby when he was three weeks old, that she visited him just once a week and spent little time with him and declined to feed or bathe him.

MacLeod said there were a number of other possible reasons for Sylvester’s claimed behavior, including postpartum depression, being intimidated by relatives caring for the baby and being unsure of her own abilities as a mother.

Duguay told the jury that neither Sylvester or Page should have had responsibility for a child and that both abused him, “Tommy sexually, and Danielle, physically.”

Duguay claimed that Sylvester was frustrated by her inability to get her insurance to authorize payment for a pharmacy to fill her drug prescription and that she took her anger out on her son.

The prosecutor said the infant’s injuries occurred when the victim spent 2.5 hours home alone with Tommy Page.

The defense maintains that autopsy results show the injuries occurred within minutes of the child being presented to emergency medical personnel, who were called to Page’s 133 Fowler River Road home in Alexandria at a time when Danielle Sylvester was with Page and her son.

The child was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for treatment and died of severe brain injuries two days later, having never regained consciousness.

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