DOVER - The Rochester man whose trial on felonious sex assault against a 14-year-old Somersworth female was supposed to begin on Wednesday walked out of court with all those charges either dropped due to evidentiary missteps or being nol prossed, but the young man still faces assault charges in the same case as well as new charges of domestic violence assault with another woman that occurred less than a week ago in Rochester.
Michael Dennis Burke, 20, of 79 Maple St., Apt. #3, was arrested Friday and charged with Class A misdemeanor domestic violence assault.
According to a police affidavit, a traffic stop on Milton Road early Friday led to the arrest when the driver told an officer she was headed to the residence of a female friend who said she had just been hit in the face by her boyfriend "again."
Rochester Police Officer Marc Cilley then contacted the victim, who identified her assailant as Burke, who officers later found at the Greenwood Inn.
Burke was brought in for booking where it was learned he was already on probation and on bail from charges from another agency.
His bail was set at $5,000 and later upped to $10,000. After coming up with the money, he was released pending no contact with the alleged victim and other conditions.
A trial is set for April in Rochester District Court for the most recent charge, while he still faces felony second-degree assault charges from the Somersworth case.
As early as Wednesday morning a jury trial was expected to begin hearing testimony in the felonious sex assault charges from the 2016 Somersworth case, in which it was alleged Burke had sex with a 14-year-old girl he had dated numerous times and took videos of sex acts he had with her.
However, Judge Mark E. Howard ruled on a defense motion that the cellphone video had not been properly acquired and suppressed that evidence, leading to prosecutors nol prossing all but the second-degree assault against Burke in connection with the Somersworth case.
"The (sexual assault) indictment did not properly allege the crime," Assistant County Attorney Lauren Di Giovanni said after the hearing, adding whether the state would seek new indictments was unclear at this time.
Di Giovanni indicated that Thursday's rulings against the prosecution had no bearing on the felony assault charges moving forward. Burke also faces two misdemeanors in the Somersworth case.
In an affidavit filed by Somersworth Police regarding last year's case, officers first became involved last March 14 when the girl's mother reported her 14-year-old daughter had been assaulted by her boyfriend, Burke.
According to the affidavit, Burke assaulted the victim while at a relative's house in Somersworth when the victim confronted him about cheating on her. During the argument outside the relative's apartment, the victim said Burke, refusing to continue the conversation, at some point ordered her to move so he could return inside, which she refused. According to the affidavit, he then threw her aside causing her to hit the ground. When she got back up, she slapped him, followed by Burke throwing a violent punch at her, the document reads, a punch that the victim dodged.
"He then grabbed (the victim's) head and pushed it back up against the apartment complex. He then proceeded to strangle (her) with his hands, lifting her ... off the ground," the affidavit reads.
During the same interview with police the victim noted that Burke had begun a pattern of abuse beginning about three months into their six-month relationship.
The affidavit also reveals that the mother of the victim was initially told by her that Burke was 15. Burke, meanwhile, says in the affidavit, the victim said at first she was 17.
In later interviews with police, the victim said she at first represented her age to Burke as 16, but he found out differently when he saw her eighth-grade graduation picture on Facebook.
On March 25 Burke was interviewed by police, admitting he had been in a relationship with the victim since September but had never had sex with her, according to the affidavit. He said he broke up with her when he learned she was just 14.
Regarding the strangulation incident, Burke told investigators the victim initiated the violence, striking him in the face several times. He said after being hit repeatedly he "used his hand" to move her from the front of the door so he could enter the key code to re-enter the apartment, but it didn't work, so he left the premises. He told investigators he never strangled her.
Toward the end of the interview Somersworth Detective Eric Chandler asked Burke if he had been trying to contact the victim, whereupon Burke said no but the victim had contacted him in a video on Snapchat in which she apparently looks at the screen and says I'm "in my bed all alone."
Police later obtained a search warrant on the phone and during a forensic investigation found a video showing what is alleged to be the victim performing oral sex on Burke.
During a second forensic interview of the victim, she said it was Burke's idea to make the video. The victim also said Burke sent her a Snapchat or Instagram of all the pictures she sent him while they were together including the video after they broke up.