A judge in the murder case against Noah Gaston ruled Thursday that nothing in a recorded interview with the Windham man’s daughter supports the claim by police that the 8-year-old girl told them Gaston and his wife argued before he shot her in their home last month.

Justice Michaela Murphy said in her written order that enough legal grounds exist to continue the murder case against Gaston, but she opened the door to the possibility that he may be released on bail as early as next week.

Gaston, 33, told police before his arrest that he accidentally killed his wife, Alicia Gaston, on Jan. 14 with a single shot from a shotgun in the stairwell of their home after mistaking her for an intruder. Police did not believe what Gaston told them, in part because of what the 8-year-old told detectives in an interview after the shooting, according to court records.

But Murphy listened herself to the recording of what the girl told police and came to a different conclusion. Before making her ruling, the judge also went to the scene of the shooting at the Gastons’ home at 37 Brookhaven Drive in Windham, heard testimony from Maine State Police detectives Christopher Farley and Ethel Ross, and reviewed police photos from the fatal shooting.

“Contrary to what is suggested in the affidavit of (Detective) Ross, and contrary to what the state argued at the conclusion of the evidence, the court cannot reasonably infer from the recording that (the child) heard any argument between her parents before the shotgun went off,” Murphy wrote in her eight-page order.

She ruled there was probable cause to bring the murder charge against Noah Gaston, while noting that the legal standard for finding probable cause is “a relatively low one.”

Gaston’s attorney, Luke Rioux, said Thursday that he was not aware of another murder case in Maine where a judge found probable cause to bring the charge, but also ruled that a bail hearing should be scheduled.

“We are pleased that the judge set a bail hearing,” Rioux said. “We believe the court is exactly right that the state’s evidence shows there was no argument before the gun went off.”

Rioux said he now plans to argue for his client’s release at a bail hearing before Murphy scheduled for Tuesday.

EXAMINING HUSBAND’S ACCOUNT

Timothy Feeley, a spokesman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case against Gaston, declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

“It’s still an ongoing and active investigation, and we have no comment,” Feeley said.

Gaston called 911 at 6:15 a.m. on Jan. 14 and told the dispatcher that he had shot his wife in the stomach and she wasn’t breathing. He said his wife had gotten up “super early” that day and he mistook her for an intruder, according to an affidavit filed with the court by Ross.

Gaston was giving his wife CPR when police arrived at the home on Brookhaven Drive, just off Route 302.

He told police that he awoke to noises and grabbed his gun, a 12-gauge shotgun. He said it was unloaded and that he loaded a shell before heading downstairs. Gaston said he believed his wife was still upstairs in bed when he saw a figure at the bottom of the stairs and fired.

Police said Gaston gave them inconsistent statements during his interview with detectives after the shooting about where his wife was on the stairway of their home when he shot her.

INCONSISTENCIES WITH THEORY

Murphy said in her ruling that the evidence before her is “currently insufficient to support any conclusion as to distance.” The judge also quoted from the audio recording of the interview by state police Detective Corey Pike with the Gastons’ 8-year-old daughter. The family also includes a 9-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy.

“She is asked by Detective Pike about the yelling, and she said she didn’t know what they were saying, but they were saying ‘Ahhh!’ as if they were scared. She is asked if she has ever heard her parents yelling on other occasions and she explains only when they are arguing. She again says that this time she did not hear words as with other arguments, just sounds like ‘Ahhh.’ … Her voice trails off with, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Murphy wrote.

The child also told Pike in the interview that she did not hear the gun go off, but that it was maybe part of her dream, the judge wrote.

“The only inference the court can draw from the last part of the interview was that the minor child did not hear any argument between her parents before being awakened by the gun firing. Her description of the sounds being made by her parents, which she characterized as them being ‘scared,’ are not entirely consistent with the (prosecution’s) theory that the defendant intentionally and knowingly shot his wife, knowing it was his wife,” Murphy wrote.

If convicted of murder, Gaston will face 25 years to life in prison. He has been held in the Cumberland County Jail in Portland since his arrest Jan. 22.