Former corrections officer charged with murder in death of patient at Secure Psychiatric Unit

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Entrance to the current Secure Psychiatric Unit at the state prison for men in Concord, NH.

CONCORD, NH – Former Corrections Officer Matthew Millar, 39, of Boscawen, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder for causing the death of a patient, Jason Rothe, 50, at the Secure Psychiatric Unit of the Department of Corrections.

“The decision to bring a charge of this nature for on-duty conduct by a law enforcement officer was not made lightly, but was based on a careful and thorough review of the facts and the law,” said Attorney General John Formella in a news release sent out on Thursday. “The charge in this incident represents allegations against one specific individual. It should in no way be taken as a reflection on the behavior or overall professionalism of the hardworking men and women at the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, particularly those who provide care and security to patients at the Secure Psychiatric Unit.”

Millar is charged with one count of second-degree murder, contrary to RSA 630:1-b, (I) (b), for recklessly causing the death of Jason Rothe under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life, by using his arms and/or legs to apply force and pressure to Mr. Rothe’s torso and/or neck, thereby causing his death by combined traumatic (compressional) and positional asphyxiation.

The affidavit filed in this matter alleges that on April 29, 2023, six corrections officers in the Secure Psychiatric Unit of the Department of Corrections engaged in a use-of-force incident that resulted in the death of Mr. Rothe, a patient at the facility. At this time, the Attorney General’s Office does not anticipate bringing criminal charges against any of the other corrections officers involved in this incident.

Shortly after Mr. Rothe’s death, New Hampshire State Police in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Justice conducted an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Rothe’s death.

On October 25, 2023, Dr. Mitchell Weinberg of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Jason Rothe’s manner of death was homicide and that the cause of death was combined traumatic (compressional) and positional asphyxiation.

The investigation produced evidence that Matthew Millar applied downward pressure with his knee and arms onto Mr. Rothe’s torso/neck area for several minutes while Mr. Rothe was handcuffed and faced down on the floor, contrary to DOC’s use-of-force protocols and training.

Matthew Millar received training on asphyxia and use of force which detailed the risk of death inherent with the specific manner of restraint he applied.

Today, Matthew Millar was arrested and taken into custody. An arraignment is anticipated this afternoon at the Concord Circuit Court.

The charges against Matthew Millar are only allegations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the New Hampshire State Police and is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Dan Jimenez of the New Hampshire Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Unit and Assistant Attorney General R. Christopher Knowles of the Homicide Unit.


 

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