New Hampshire man pleads not guilty to Walmart parking lot beating death of 79-year-old victim

Brian Roberge, 52, allegedly straddled the chest of Jan VanTassel, 79, while hitting in the head and face, authorities said

A New Hampshire man accused of beating a 79-year-old victim to death in a Walmart parking lot has pleaded not guilty.

Brian Roberge, 52, of Somersworth, was being held without bail following his hearing. He faces a first-degree murder charge. 

Somersworth police said they received a call Friday about a man assaulting another man. When they arrived, they found Jan VanTassel, of Center Ossipee, unresponsive with head and facial injuries. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy concluded VanTassel’s cause of death was due to compressional asphyxia and that his manner of death was homicide, the New Hampshire's Attorney General's Office said.


new hampshire man pleads not guilty to walmart parking lot beating death of 79 year old victim

A New Hampshire man allegedly beat a 79-year-old man to death in the parking lot of a Walmart last week. He has pleaded not guilty.  (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

"The compressional asphyxia finding by Dr. Weinberg is consistent with eyewitness accounts that Mr. Roberge was straddling Mr. VanTassel's chest for several minutes while hitting him in the head and face," the AG's office said. 

Roberge appeared in court Monday via video. A judge ordered him to be held without bail, citing "convincing evidence" to detain him. 

Authorities have not revealed what led to the altercation between the two men. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Louis Casiano is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Authored by Louis Casiano via FoxNews July 18th 2023