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Maine Mother Found Guilty of Murder After Severely Abusing 3-Year-Old Son, Trying to Blame It on a Dog and the Boy’s Sister

Jessica Trefethen, courtesy of Waldo County Jail

Jessica Trefethen, courtesy of Waldo County Jail.

A 36-year-old mother in Maine may spend the rest of her life behind bars following a conviction for killing her 3-year-old son in horrific fashion.

A Waldo County jury on Tuesday found Jessica Trefethen guilty on one count of depraved indifference murder in the death of young Maddox Williams, court officials confirmed to Law&Crime.

Depraved indifference murder requires the jury to find that the defendant’s conduct manifested a “depraved indifference to the value of human life” and that such behavior was the reason for the victim’s death. As a result of her conviction, Trefethen faces 25 years to life in prison.

Trefethen was arrested last summer after investigators discovered that she had brought Maddox to the Waldo County General Hospital suffering from a fractured spine, bleeding in his brain, a ruptured bowel, and extensive bruising on his head, stomach, arms, and legs, among other injuries, as previously reported by Law&Crime. Trefethen reportedly told the medical staff that a dog had knocked Maddox over and his sister kicked him in the stomach, but medical experts said that explanation didn’t explain the boy’s extensive injuries.

Hospital employees said that the child was not breathing when he arrived at the emergency room and the staff was not able to resuscitate him despite trying for over an hour. The Maine Medical Examiner’s Office later said that Maddox’s cause of death was “multiple blunt force trauma” that was determined to have been inflicted “non-accidentally,” the Bangor Daily News reported.

In addition to the injuries that killed Maddox, doctors also determined that he had missing teeth, a fractured jaw, and multiple other injuries in various states of healing, a clear indicator of repeated abuse.

Following the child’s death, police attempted to contact Trefethen but were unable to locate her for several days. She was taken into custody on June 23, 2021, three days after Maddox was pronounced dead at the hospital. Following her arrest, Trefethen told police that she had no idea how her son came to suffer such horrendous injuries, though she did say that Maddox “bruised very easily and her kids play wild and crazy,” a probable cause affidavit said.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said during Tuesday’s closing arguments that the state believes “Trefethen stomped on Maddox, or harmed him in some other way using significant force.”

He also reiterated that investigators found Maddox’s blood “throughout the house.”

Following closing arguments on Tuesday, jurors reportedly only needed about an hour to deliberate before returning with a guilty verdict.

“Well, I think that what the investigation showed and what the evidence showed was that these injuries could not have been caused in an accidental manner, and that is what the jury’s verdict here shows,” Assistant Attorney General John Risler said after the verdict, according to a report from Bangor CBS affiliate WABI-TV.

Trefethen’s mother, Sherry Johnson of Stockton Springs, was charged with obstruction in the case for allegedly helping her daughter conceal her whereabouts from the police after Maddox’s death. Johnson later reportedly told police that she knew within hours of Maddox’s death that her daughter would be arrested and conceded that she knew it was wrong to try and prevent police from finding Trefethen.

Trefethen will return to court for a sentencing hearing in December.

[Image via Waldo County Jail]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.