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Jury to begin deliberating verdict in Alexandria toddler murder case

Union Leader Correspondent

September 18. 2017 9:10PM


The state’s deputy medical examiner told a jury on Monday that the multiple blunt-impact injuries that resulted in the death of an 11-month-old boy in 2015 occurred up to three hours before an ambulance was called.

Tommy Page, 30, formerly of Alexandria, is facing alternate counts of first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of Shawn Sylvester, the son of his former girlfriend, Danielle Sylvester.

Dr. Jennie Duval, a board-certified forensic pathologist, described graphic photographs of the injuries for the jury that she had taken during the autopsy.

“They can’t be explained away as a fall,” Duval said.

Page initially told police that he had bumped the boy’s head on the bedpost while dressing him. He later claimed the boy struck his head on the faucet while he was giving him a bath. He also told investigators that he’d been asleep and that the toddler had fallen down the stairs.

The X-rays revealed multiple complex fractures on both sides of the head, extending into the base of the skull.

“All the cracks you are seeing here are fracture lines. The right side shows very obvious fracture lines radiating in multiple directions,” the pathologist said while the jury, some ashen-faced, looked at an easel holding a 12-by-16 color photograph of the victim’s ruined skull.

The toddler was just a week shy of his first birthday when he died.

Page’s attorneys have said Sylvester, not Page, was responsible for inflicting the fatal injuries. Prosecutors maintain Sylvester was out filling a prescription and had left the baby with Page.

Judge Lawrence MacLeod dismissed the jury for the day about 1:45 p.m. Monday. They were told to return to the courthouse at 9 a.m. today for closing arguments.

The defense called Meghan Dudley as its sole witness on Monday.

Under questioning by defense attorney James Brooks, Dudley said she was Danielle Sylvester’s step-mother and had raised her since age 9. Sylvester had lived with her and her husband, but spent little time there other than to shower or do laundry. Dudley cared for the baby called “SJ” and agreed that Danielle declined to feed or bathe him. As she worked full-time, Dudley said, she had to hire a babysitter to watch the baby.

“Danielle was still living at your place but wasn’t around much — to use your parlance she was out running the roads?” Brooks inquired.

“Yes,” Dudley replied.

“You had asked Danielle to watch SJ and she had responded, ‘I don’t want to be alone with SJ. I’m having bad thoughts?’” Brooks asked Dudley.

“Yes,” the witness replied.

But when Prosecutor Geoff Ward had the chance to question Dudley, he had her clarify that Sylvester’s “bad thoughts” comment was made only once and happened about six months before the killing.

He also asked her to identify a series of photographs seized from Danielle Sylvester’s cell phone that were taken over a three-month span to within days of the boy’s death.

As the photos flashed on a large-screen television for the jury, Dudley used a tissue to wipe the corners of her eyes as she repeatedly identified Sylvester and SJ as the subjects in the photos as Ward described the moments they captured. They included his mother giving him a bottle, the boy playing with toys, eating an apple, pulling himself up as he started to walk, and climbing atop Danielle while she is lying down.

After hearing instructions from the judge, three members of the jury — now made up of nine men and six women — will be randomly chosen as alternates. The 12 remaining jurors will then begin deliberating their verdicts.

Crime Alexandria

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