BELFAST — A Waldo County jury has found a 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 Oct. 5.

Nurses tried for an hour, but could not save Maddox. 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 Tuesday, 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 Tuesday not to testify in her trial and her attorneys called no witnesses. Instead, they pointed to a recording of her interview with police the day she was arrested, which prosecutors played for the jury during the first week of the trial.

Trefethen’s defense attorney Jeffrey Toothaker told jurors before their decision Tuesday that prosecutors could only guess that Trefethen stomped Maddox. 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 than Maddox had fallen off a trampoline outside the family’s trailer in Stockton Springs.

Police, Toothaker said, failed to fully investigate those scenarios.

“Too many questions,” Toothaker said. “Too many unanswered questions by the state.”

But police did not know to investigate a possible trampoline accident until meeting with Trefethen three days after Maddox’s death, Zainea told jurors. Shortly after Maddox was pronounced dead at the hospital, Trefethen and her mother, Sherry Johnson, left before police could arrive to question them. Zainea said Trefethen spent the next three days hiding. She withdrew all the money from her bank account and texted friends from a messaging app under a different name to avoid being tracked.

While Maine State Police troopers were looking for Trefethen at Searsport Pier, where Johnson falsely told officers her daughter was taking time to herself, she was texting friends for a place to “hide out,” suggesting that she already feared investigators were going to arrest her.

“For a mere 10 minutes, the defendant stayed with her son before she fled the emergency room with her mother, and Maddox was left behind,” Zainea said.

During the first week of trial, the court considered several text conversations Trefethen had with friends about Maddox, including those in the months before he died when she described injuries to Maddox and efforts to hide them from the boy’s father.

Trefethen’s oldest daughter testified that her mother would hide Maddox’s bruises with makeup and temporary tattoos. Johnson testified that Trefethen often told Maddox he was “ugly” and that he reminded her too much of his father.

“Maddox was a constant reminder of a man she hated,” Zainea said. “He wasn’t a Trefethen, like her and the others.”

Her defense team focused on Maddox’s relationship with Trefethen’s other children and her ex-husband Jason Trefethen, the father of four of her children who lived in a nearby camper on her property.

Toothaker asked jurors to consider the possibility Jason Trefethen was responsible for Maddox’s injuries or death. Who’s to say her other children didn’t hurt Maddox and cause the fatal injuries, he said.