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Stockton Springs mom sentenced to 47 years for killing 3½-year-old son

Linda Coan O'Kresik
Belfast, Maine -- October 5, 2022 -- The murder trial of Jessica Trefethen, also known as Jessica Williams,36, of Stockton Springs begins with opening arguments on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast.

If you are concerned about a child being neglected or abused, call Maine’s 24-hour hotline at 800-452-1999 or 711 to speak with a child protective specialist. Calls may be made anonymously. For more information, visit https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cw/reporting_abuse.shtml.

BELFAST, Maine — A Stockton Springs mother was sentenced to 47 years in prison Tuesday at the Waldo Judicial Center for beating her 3½-year-old son, Maddox Williams, to death in June 2021.

A jury in October found Jessica Trefethen, 36, guilty of depraved indifference murder after a deliberating for about an hour following five days of testimony.

In sentencing Trefethen, Superior Court Justice Robert Murray described the mother as having “a twisted sense of punishment” that she imposed on the boy.

maddox williams.PNG
via BDN
Maddox Williams

“The statements, interviews and behavior by the defendant immediately after the death of Maddox focused on causes by anything but herself,” he said.

Trefethen did not address the judge prior to her sentencing.

Maddox William’s paternal grandmother, Victoria Vose, and other family members urged the judge to impose a life sentence.

Trefethen is expected to appeal her conviction and sentence to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Trefethen faced 25 years to life in prison. Assistant Attorneys General Leane Zainea and John Risler, who prosecuted the case, recommended a sentence of 55 years while defense attorney Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth urged Murray to impose a 30-year sentence.

“It is simply unbearable to think of a young child wholly dependent on his adult caregiver, being viciously beaten to death by that caregiver, Maddox’s death has deeply affected all that knew him as well as those who tried to save his life,” Zainea said in her sentencing memorandum. “The impact of Maddox’s death is far reaching and will be remembered for many years to come, including by those individuals who served as jurors.”

Toothaker said that he sought the lower sentence, in part, because the prosecution offered to recommend a 40 year sentence if Trefethen would plead guilty to murder. She rejected that offer.

He said in his sentencing memorandum that 30 years was a “just outcome.”

Maddox Williams died on June 20, 2021, at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. He was taken there by his mother after complaining of stomach pain, according to testimony. He lost consciousness in the hospital parking lot and never regained it despite emergency room staff’s efforts to revive him.

The autopsy showed that Maddox suffered a fracture in his lower spine; bruises on his arms, legs, belly and head; bleeding in his brain; a ruptured bowel; a split pancreas and other injuries, according to a police affidavit. Maddox also was missing three front teeth.

Maine Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Liam Funte testified that Maddox died of battered child syndrome. The fatal injuries — damage to the pancreas and the boy’s ruptured bowel — were inflicted a few hours before he died, he said.

At the time of his death, the boy was not quite three feet tall and weighed 27 pounds, the autopsy said.

Jessica Trefethen told police in an interview played for the jury that she did not abuse her children.

“My kids are my world,” she told investigators.

Maddox was one of four children allegedly killed by a parent last year, prompting a fresh round of scrutiny for the state’s child welfare system and an outside investigation into the deaths. A report from the Maine Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability on how their cases were handled is due next year to the Legislature.

The boy lived with his father and paternal grandmother, Vose of Warren, until he was two years old. After Andrew Williams was arrested in March 2021, Maddox was returned to his mother.

“Instead of family getting ready for Christmas and for Maddox’s fifth birthday next month, we are here for the sentencing for his murder at the hands of a monster,” Vose said. “I am broken and my family is broken. My family was given a life sentence on June 20, 2021 — a life without our precious Maddox.”

Andrew Williams, 32, of Rockport, attended the sentencing hearing and spoke to reporters outside the courthouse. He said that Maddox, who was premature, had been safe with him and his family before DHHS failed his son.

“They were warned several times by my whole family that this was going to happen but they wouldn’t listen,” the father said. “I warned them that this was going to happen, that she was going to hurt him or kill him but they did not listen.”

He called on lawmakers to force DHHS caseworkers to visit children who might be in jeopardy more often. Williams accused the department of not checking on Maddox often enough and blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for the lack of oversight.

Williams also told reporters that he wanted his son to be remembered as “a caring, funny, beautiful boy.”

Andrew Williams attended the sentencing hearing but did not address the judge.

Murray also ordered Trefethen to pay more than $9,000 in restitution for her son’s funeral expenses and grief counseling for family members.

This story appears through a partnership with the Bangor Daily News.