Not guilty pleas entered for mother of NH boy found dead

NASHUA, NH (AP) – A lawyer has entered not guilty pleas to murder charges on behalf of the mother of a 5-year-old New Hampshire boy who was found dead in Massachusetts last fall.

Danielle Dauphinais, 35, was indicted last month on one count of first-degree murder alleging she purposely caused the death of Elijah Lewis, one count of second-degree murder alleging she acted recklessly in causing his death, and three counts of witness tampering.

“My client maintains her innocence regarding these charges,” her attorney, Jaye Rancourt, said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.

Dauphinais had been scheduled for arraignment on May 24, but she waived that and Rancourt entered the not guilty pleas this week. Dauphinais’ next court date is June 28.

Child welfare officials notified police that the boy was missing Oct. 14. After a state police dog found his body in the woods on Oct. 23 in Abington, Massachusetts, an autopsy showed he died of “violence and neglect.”

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Massachusetts determined the boy suffered “facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers.”

Dauphinais is accused of killing her son sometime between Sept. 27, 2020, and Sept. 24, 2021. She also is accused of telling two people to lie and say the boy was with them in October and telling a third not to talk to investigators.

Dauphinais was later arrested in New York, and she and the man she was with, Joseph Stapf, 30, were charged with witness tampering and child endangerment.

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