Woman accused of killing toddler held without bail

By Jennifer Osborne, The Ellsworth American | Apr 23, 2019
Murder defendant Savannah Smith, shown with defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein, listens to Justice Robert Murray’s decision April 22 to hold Smith without bail. Ellsworth American photo by Jennifer Osborn

Justice Robert Murray ruled Monday that the Bucksport woman accused of murdering 2-year-old Kloe Hawksley be held without bail, citing, in part, a lack of a stable living arrangement.

Defendant Savannah Smith, 21, clad in an orange jumpsuit, cried intermittently during the bail hearing, which lasted over two hours.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin argued against bail.

Smith was “the last adult” to be with Hawksley before the toddler was found dead the morning of Oct. 18, 2017, Robbin said.

A 911 call was made from the residence of Tyler Hawksley (Kloe’s father) at 7 a.m. EMTs arrived around 7:30, according to court testimony.

According to testimony, Smith and Tyler Hawksley had been in a relationship. Smith was not Kloe’s biological mother.

Kloe died after suffering a “blow to the abdomen with such force that it severed her stomach from her small intestine,” Robbin told the judge.

Murray said more information would be needed about Smith’s living arrangements in order to grant bail.

“There is not a plan for where this defendant would be if bail were granted,” Murray said.

The Maine State Police arrested Smith April 4 at the Spring Fountain Motel in Bucksport, where she had been residing.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Social Service Supervisor Anna Edlund testified during the 90 minutes of testimony that the department had concerns about Smith’s living situation.

The department has had custody of two of Smith’s children since Oct. 18, 2017, the date Kloe was found dead. A third child is in the custody of its biological father.

The department learned that there had been methamphetamine users living in the motel room with Smith, Edlund testified.

“The department is concerned about the company she keeps?” Robbin asked Edlund.

“The department is concerned about her activities and the people around her as well,” Edlund replied.

Bangor defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein argued that Smith is “local” with numerous family members living in Bucksport.

“Her life is local,” Silverstein said. “Her set of contacts is local.”

Neither Smith nor her family have the means to provide her with bail, Silverstein said.

“This is a family of very limited means,” the defense attorney said. “Most of them do not own property.”

Eighteen months have passed since Kloe’s death.

“She had plenty of opportunity” to leave and hasn’t, Silverstein said.

Robbin countered, “it may have been the defendant was lulled into complacency.” The prosecutor cited the 18-month span between Kloe’s death and Smith’s arrest after grand jury indictment.

During the hearing, Silverstein called on Maine State Police Detective Tom Pickering to testify.

Pickering had been the secondary detective assigned to the case. Detective Greg Mitchell was the primary. He attended the hearing but did not testify.

Silverstein asked whether Pickering had any knowledge of Smith using any hard drugs. The detective testified that he did not.

Murphy has set a status conference in the case for July 26.

After the hearing, a victim witness advocate for the Attorney General’s Office pulled Tyler Hawksley and Kloe’s mother into a conference room.

Silverstein spoke with media on the courthouse steps after.

“(Smith is) young and never been in trouble. She’s upset. Plus she gave birth three days before she was arrested. I feel for her. Hopefully, we’ll sort this whole thing out.”

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