CONCORD, N.H. – The state Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Chad Evans in the beating death of 21-month-old Kassidy Bortner.
Evans, the boyfriend of Amanda Bortner, Kassidy’s mother, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 28 years to life in prison. The toddler died on Nov. 9, 2000, at York Hospital in Maine.
By upholding the conviction, the Supreme Court opened the door for the state to ask for an extension of the sentence under a 2001 law allowing prosecutors to appeal sentences. Prosecutors plan to recommend the sentence be extended to 60 years-to-life in prison, said Will Delker, a senior assistant attorney general.
In his appeal, Evans argued that the jury was given improper instructions and that prosecutors did not rule out his contention that Kassidy’s babysitter in Kittery, Maine, caused the fatal injuries.
Kassidy died after the babysitter dialed 911 to report that she was having trouble breathing. Prosecutors said Kassidy was injured repeatedly at the house Evans and Bortner shared in Rochester.
Evans’ appeal also said his trial judge should not have allowed testimony about comments that Kassidy’s mother, Amanda Bortner, made to a friend the night that Evans was arrested. Evans said that testimony was hearsay.
The high court said the hearsay comments were permissible under a legal exception for spontaneous comments after a startling event.
The court also ruled that the jury instructions were proper and that Evans’ lawyer had ample opportunity at trial to present the theory that it was the baby sitter who killed Kassidy.
Bortner is serving a two-year sentence for child endangerment for failing to protect Kassidy from the fatal beating. She is appealing the conviction and Supreme Court arguments are expected next month.