LANCASTER — Jury selection is underway for the trial of Roger Dana charged with killing his 2 1/2-year-old daughter in Berlin on Nov. 27, 2016. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 16 in Coos County Superior Court.
The 45-year old Dana is charged with one count of first degree murder/felonious sexual assault and one count of second degree murder. An autopsy performed by then N.H. Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval ruled Madison Dana died of blunt impact injuries to the head and abdomen and had extensive bruising and contusions as well as evidence of sexual assault.
The defense has notified the court it plans to use an insanity defense and has requested a bifurcated trial with separate phases on guilt and sanity. Earlier, the defense had challenged whether Dana was competent to stand trial and a competency hearing was held. While the court’s decision in the case was sealed, Dana was found competent.
Police testified in earlier hearings that Dana told them at the scene that Madison fell off the top bunk of the bed in her room while he was retrieving some clothes to change her. But the next day, he reportedly told police he had laid the child down for a nap and heard a crash and found her on the floor, unresponsive.
The state, which has the burden of proof, has 39 potential witnesses on its list, including a large number of law enforcement officials and medical personnel. The list includes the infant’s mother, Ashley Bourque, and grandmother, Paulette Walker.
Bourque was at work when Dana allegedly called Walker to report the child was injured. Berlin police testified when they arrived at the scene, Bourque was holding her injured daughter in her arms. The infant was taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin where she died despite the efforts of medical personnel.
Also on the state’s witness list is Shane Whitehouse, a neighbor of the 109 York St. apartment where Madison lived with her mother. Whitehouse told police on the day of Madison’s death, he could hear Dana yelling at the infant so loud, he started recording it with his cellphone. He said he heard two thuds against the wall that the two apartments share. About an hour later, Whitehouse said he heard Walker calling for police.
The defense list identifies seven potential witnesses including three doctors. One, Dr. Stuart Gitlow is a toxicologist expected to testify about the potential effects of using alcohol and the drug, Klonopin.
Jury selection got underway Friday, Sept.6 and continued Monday, Sept 9. A total of 22 jurors will be picked, allowing for ten alternates. The trial is expected to take 10 days.