It did not take jurors long to convict Belfast, Maine mother, Jessica Trefethen, of the beating death of her 3-year-old son Maddox Williams.
Trefethen’s murder trial came to a speedy conclusion earlier this week when a Waldo County jury found the Stockton Springs mother guilty of depraved indifference murder in the death of her 3-year-old son last summer.
Jessica Trefethen, 36, was charged in July 2021, three days after she brought her son Maddox Williams to Waldo County General Hospital unconscious and without a pulse.
Trefethen told hospital staff that Maddox had been knocked over by a dog and kicked by one of his sisters, a story her defense attorneys repeated during their opening statements on Oct. 5.
Nurses tried heroically for over an hour, but could not resuscitate the toddler. The following day, a medical examiner determined Maddox had died of severe internal injuries to his abdomen and fractured vertebrae.
Based on several older injuries, including missing teeth, a broken jaw, two brain injuries, and dozens of bruises all over his body, the examiner also found Maddox was a victim of “battered child syndrome.”
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea told jurors on Oct. 18, that the state believes Trefethen stomped on Maddox, or hit him with significant force.
She asked the jury to consider testimony from family members that Trefethen treated Maddox worse than her other children out of spite for Maddox’s father, and that Trefethen hid for three days after Maddox’s death before speaking with police.
In order to find Trefethen guilty of the depraved indifference charge, jurors had to agree Trefethen caused Maddox’s death and that he would not have died if it were not for her conduct. They also had to agree that she acted in a way that demonstrates a “depraved indifference” to human life.
Trefethen will be sentenced at a later date. She decided not to testify in her trial, and her attorneys called no witnesses. Instead, they pointed to a recording of her interview with police from the day she was arrested, where she gave an alternative explanation for Maddox’s injuries.
In her defense, Trefethen’s attorney Jeffrey Toothaker told jurors that prosecutors could only “speculate” that Trefethen stomped Maddox to death.
Toothaker said they had not successfully disproven Trefethen’s statements to police after Maddox died — that he had been pulled down by the family’s new dog and hit a rock before his 8-year-old sister kicked him — or other statements she made later that Maddox had fallen off a trampoline outside the family’s trailer in Stockton Springs, explaining the older injuries that lead the ME to make the conclusion of him having been a “battered child.”
Police, Toothaker said, failed to fully investigate those scenarios.
“Too many questions,” Toothaker said. “Too many unanswered questions by the state.”
But the jury was not buying any of it. It took less than an hour of deliberation before they returned with her guilty verdict. Trefethen will be sentenced in December.
She faces 25 years to life in state prison. The attorney general’s office will submit a recommendation to the court.