Somersworth man held on no bail, affidavit sealed in Somersworth murder case

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Brian Roberge during his video arraignment from Strafford County Jail (WMUR screenshot)

DOVER - The man accused in the beating death of an elderly Center Ossipee man outside Walmart on Friday will remain in jail following a Strafford Superior Court judge's order on Monday.
"The proof is evident and the presumption is great," Judge Mark Howard told Brian Roberge, 52, of Somersworth. "This case does involve a life sentence and therefore you will be detained pending trial."
Howard did say that in the future the defense can call for a bail hearing if they so choose.
Roberge was arrested Saturday on one count of second-degree murder in the death of Jan VanTassel, 79, whose autopsy on Sunday revealed that his death was the result of compressional asphyxia and that his manner of death was homicide.
As a result of the autopsy results, the charge against Roberge was amended to an allegation that he "recklessly caused the death of VanTassel under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life by means of homicidal violence."
Police got involved around 11:20 p.m. on Friday as they responded to the Walmart for a report of one man assaulting another man. Upon arriving, officers found VanTassel unresponsive with visible head and facial injuries. First responders determined he was dead at the scene.
The compressional asphyxia finding is consistent with eyewitness accounts that Roberge was straddling VanTassel's chest for several minutes while hitting him in the head and face, according to a statement sent out on Sunday by the Attorney Generals Office.
The affidavit filed in the case has been sealed and likely won't be released pending an indictment.
Anyone who may have information about the incident is asked to contact New Hampshire State Police Communications at (603) 223-4381, attention Detective Sergeant Justin Rowe.

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