NH officials push to re-examine man’s conviction for 2000 Kittery death of toddler
CONCORD, New Hampshire — Some government leaders in the state are pursuing new efforts to free former Rochester resident Chad Evans, who was convicted in 2001 of murdering a 21-month-old girl.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a resolution urging the Department of Justice to re-examine Evans’ conviction and hire an independent investigator to review the case. Meanwhile, the senior assistant attorney general states he does not believe a further review of the case will exonerate Evans.
Evans is serving 43 years to life in prison on a second-degree murder charge, for killing 21-month-old Kassidy Bortner, who was the daughter of Evans’ girlfriend at the time, Amanda Bortner. Kassidy died on Nov. 9, 2000, after an incident at a home in Kittery, Maine.
At Evans’ December 2001 trial, Dr. Margaret Greenwald, who was the chief medical examiner at the time, testified that Kassidy died of battered child syndrome after suffering bruises throughout her entire body, including eight to 10 blows to the head.
In 2003, the N.H. Supreme Court issued an opinion, following Evans’ appeal of the case, stating that Evans had assaulted Kassidy on several occasions in the months before she died.
Following his conviction, Evans has maintained his innocence and claimed that the bruising on Kassidy’s body was accidental. In an interview with Foster’s in January 2011, Evans said his son struck Kassidy by a tee-ball and it hit her in the face. He also said Kassidy banged her head on a glass table a couple weeks before she died.
The resolution states that the jury was unaware of several factors, including that Kassidy had a heart abnormality and her death may not have been a homicide.
It also states Evans was only briefly interviewed by police about the incident. It states that the jury did not know that Evans had asked about enrolling Kassidy into day care, or that Kassidy appeared fine to a school nurse, days before she died.
The resolution also mentions Kassidy’s appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, of which the jury was not aware. The appointment took place two months before her death, and was made at Evans’ own recommendation, during the period time Evans was accused of abusing her.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, who is also chief of the homicide unit, said he does not believe the information listed in the resolution would make any difference in the jury’s opinion at trial.
He said the Attorney General’s Office had already reexamined Evans’ case a couple years ago, when it conducted a polygraph test, a voice stress lie detector test and a statement analysis. Strelzin said the results of the polygraph test were inconclusive, and he denied Evans’ claim that he passed the voice stress test that analyzed whether Evans was telling the truth about circumstances of Kassidy’s death.
According to Strelzin, the statement analysis test — in which an expert analyses Evans’ statements to police — concluded he was not truthful.
It is also uncertain at this time whether the Department of Corrections would be compelled to reinvestigate the case if the resolution is passed. In a phone interview Tuesday, Strelzin said the resolution, HB10, simply “urges” the department to reexamine the case.
State Rep. Max Abramson of Seabrook, who is the primary sponsor of the resolution, said it is “bordline physically impossible” that Evans was anywhere near Kassidy at the time of her death. He said it is more likely that her heart condition or actions of her baby sitter at the time, led to her death.
Abramsom was previously convicted of reckless conduct for firing a weapon at his home in 2010 while trying to stop a fight that erupted at a party.
Abramson, who maintains his innocence on the reckless conduct charge, said Evans’ case is one of the main reasons he decided to run for state representative in this past November’s election.
The other sponsor of the resolution is state Rep. Dick Patten of Concord.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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