SOMERSWORTH, N.H. — Jared Pope pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of 2-year-old Noah York Monday morning in Strafford Superior Court.
Although the family is glad the trial wasn’t dragged out and turned into “a circus,” the child’s grandmother said there will never be closure.
Jared Pope, 30, pleaded guilty to using nylon rope, blankets and a nearly 20-pound duffel bag to smother his girlfriend’s toddler while caring for him and his 1-year-old brother, Issac. At the time of his death, Noah weighed only 30 pounds.
During the plea-and-sentencing hearing Monday morning, State Attorney John J. McCormack IV said Pope met Noah’s mother in January 2013 while they were both working at McDonalds. They began dating in March and moved to an apartment at 231 High St. in Somersworth from Rochester in June.
Only a week after that move, Noah was found dead in the apartment. McCormack said Pope made a 911 call at 5:48 p.m. on June 14. He said Pope had been watching Noah when he began having difficulty breathing during dinner. When emergency responders arrived at the apartment Noah had no vital signs and was rushed to the hospital.
Upon questioning, Pope said Noah had choked on a piece of meat and milk during dinner. McCormack said Pope initially told police he had given the child the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the piece of meat, but that the boy continued choking. Pope told police he placed Noah on the bed and called 911.
Upon further questioning and a search for the dislodged piece of meat, police were unable to find it and X-rays from the hospital came in concluding there had been no obstruction.
After police relayed this information to Pope, he admitted to smothering the 2-year-old because he was crying. McCormack said Pope bound the child in rope and then wrapped him in sheets and covered him first with pillows and then the duffel bag. He then left the child alone, kicking and crying, as he went outside to have a cigarette.
Pope told police when he returned Noah’s eyes were rolling in the back of his head, so he brought him to the shower and gave him chest compressions.
The autopsy confirmed Noah had been killed by smothering through the obstruction of his mouth, nose and chest. He also had bruises on the back of his left arm from being bound by the rope.
Interviews conducted with friends or acquaintances of Pope quoted him as previously saying he didn’t like his girlfriend’s children and would “end up hurting them.” It was also revealed that at 4:05 p.m. on the night of Noah’s death, Pope had texted and talked on the phone with his ex-girlfriend and said he was unhappy, hated the kids and that one would “end up dead before the end of their relationship.” McCormack said they also talked about getting back together.
Another individual told police that Pope referred to his discipline of Noah and Issac as “boot camp” and that she had seen Pope restrain Noah before with blankets and pillows while lying him face down on the bed. She said one time she also thought Pope put something in Noah’s mouth.
Noah’s maternal aunt spoke to the court, saying, “People don’t understand that what they do affects other people … He went outside to smoke a cigarette while Noah was slowly dying … You will never be forgiven for what you did.”
In an emotionally charged address to the court and Pope, Noah’s maternal grandmother Judith Willmonton said Pope destroyed her family, will never be forgiven and that she hates him.
“You’re nothing but a punk, a wimp and a coward,” she said directly to him as he began crying. “You’re sorry for nothing. You can cry all you want.”
She said Noah died so that his brother will now be safe and she will do everything in her power to keep Pope in jail for the rest of his life and away from all children so that Noah will not have died in vain. She said a month before Noah’s death she had called the Department of Youth Services about the abuse she believed Pope was causing her grandchildren, but never heard back.
She said Noah’s full name aloud and said her goodbyes to him while holding a photo for the judge to see.
As she left the stand she looked at Pope and said, “Die.”
McCormack said Noah’s mother was unable to attend the hearing, but that she agreed with the resolution. He also said Noah’s father has not been able to be located.
Pope became a U.S. citizen in February 2001 and thus has a limited criminal history, including a couple Class B misdemeanors and a Class A possession of marijuana offense from 2009.
Pope will be sentenced in accordance to the state’s recommendation of 30 years to life with five years deferred from the minimum sentence if he maintains good behavior, participates in counseling and treatment, refrains from major disciplinary action, pays $4,055 in restitution and has no contact with the family of the victim.
Pope waived his indictment and sentence review and when asked by the judge if he is guilty he said, “Yes, I am.”
Pope briefly, and quietly, expressed his apologies to the family.
Judge Kenneth Brown concluded by saying he recently attended his granddaughter’s birthday party and said to the family, “I feel your pain.”
Noah’s grandfather, Guy Willmonton, thanked the Somersworth and State Police as well as the district attorney following the hearing and said, “Justice has been served.”
Willmonton again recounted the senselessness of the murder and that Jared Pope is the “most horrible man in the world.” “There is no closure,” she said. “There will never be closure.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services