AUGUSTA — Three teenagers accused in the strangling and stabbing death of a Litchfield woman last year chanted “murder gang” together while the three were detained at the Long Creek Youth Development Center.

William Smith, one of three teenagers charged in the April 2018 death of Kimberly Mironovas, looks toward the back of the courtroom, where family members were watching the hearing held Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta to determine whether Smith will be charged as an adult. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

That detail came out in testimony Thursday, the final day of a hearing to determine whether William Smith, 16, of Ashland, Massachusetts, will be tried as an adult or remain in the juvenile justice system.

After they were charged following the killing of Kimberly Mironovas, 47, of Litchfield, Smith, Kimberly’s son Lukas Mironovas, 16, and Thomas “TJ” Severance, 14, were all detained at the South Portland youth facility.

While there the three boys chanted “murder gang” three times, at least once while making what appeared to be stabbing motions, according to a state prosecutor. That was echoed by the testimony of Long Creek workers who took the stand this week.

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam said the trio of boys were reported by Long Creek staff to have chanted the “murder gang” term and also chanted “MG,” the initials of that same term, on multiple occasions, at least one of which was documented in a staff report.

Matt Findlay, a worker on the unit where the three teenagers were kept at Long Creek, testified Thursday that when the boys chanted “murder gang” or “MG,” “Every time they’d do it, I’d tell them to stop.”

Findlay noted in response to a question from Smith’s attorney, Walter McKee, that other children on the unit had also used the “murder gang” term, and he also told them to stop doing so.

In response to a psychologist testifying Tuesday as a witness for Smith’s defense that she had heard about the “murder gang” incident, but that the trio could have been joking and she didn’t think it was significant, Elam said: “Well they were, actually. Weren’t they actually a murder gang?”

Severance, also of Ashland, Massachusetts, already has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and has been committed to Long Creek until he is 21 years old.

State prosecutors seek to have Smith and Lukas Mironovas go to trial as adults on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. A hearing to determine Mironovas’ trial status has not been scheduled.

Judge Andrew Benson, who oversaw Smith’s three-day bindover hearing, said lawyers for Smith and the state would submit their closing statements in writing by July 19, and then he will issue a written decision in the case.

If the judge determines Smith should be tried as an adult, he could be indicted and face a murder trial; and if found guilty in such a trial, he could face a minimum sentence of 25 years — and a maximum of life — in prison. If the judge determines Smith should be treated as a juvenile, he would be committed to Long Creek until he’s 21, when he’d be released, according to McKee.

According to a juvenile petition filed by authorities against Lukas Mironovas, the trio on April 21, 2018, initially planned to murder Lukas’ mother by crushing up prescription pills with a mallet and putting them into her wine, but they rejected that idea. Then, around 1 a.m. the next morning, the petition says, Lukas Mironovas “armed himself with a knife and donned a mask and gloves,” and Smith also put on gloves. The pair then went into Kimberly’s bedroom, where she was sleeping, and both Lukas Mironovas and Smith strangled Kimberly Mironovas, with Lukas Mironovas also stabbing her in the neck.

Dr. Kristen Sweeney, of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, testified Wednesday that the cause of Kimberly Mironovas’ death was determined in an autopsy to have been strangulation and stabbing. She said either or both could have been what killed her.

Dr. Carlann Welch, a Portland psychologist testifying as a witness for the defense of Smith, said earlier in the hearing that Smith told her he had stepped in to help strangle Kimberly Mironovas after her son called to him for help, but stopped after a few or several seconds because he couldn’t go through with it.

Factors to be considered by the court in determining whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult include the seriousness of the crime; the characteristics of the juvenile, including his or her record, age and attitude and pattern of living, whether the protection of the public’s safety requires the juvenile to be held for a longer period of time than he would be as a juvenile, and whether future criminal conduct by the juvenile would be deterred by the juvenile justice system.

Smith and Severance, who had gone to school with Lukas Mironovas in Massachusetts before he moved to Litchfield with his mother, were visiting the Mironovases’ 1482 Hallowell Road home when the incident occurred.

The three teens were arrested the morning of April 22, 2018, with Smith driving in Mironovas’ car, and taken to the Gardiner Police Department, where state police detectives interviewed them.

Both Smith and Mironovas family members attended this week’s court proceedings.

 

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