AUGUSTA — A judge has ruled that a teenage boy charged with participating in the strangling and stabbing of a Litchfield woman can be prosecuted as an adult.

William Smith, who was 15 at the time of the April 22, 2018, slaying of 47-year-old Kimberly Mironovas, is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Mironovas was the mother of his friend, Lukas Mironovas, who is also charged in his mother’s death.

District Court Judge Andrew Benson ruled, in a decision released Monday afternoon, after considering the seriousness of the crime, the public’s safety and alternatives available in the juvenile justice system, to prosecute the now 16-year-0ld Smith as an adult rather than a juvenile.

If convicted in the juvenile justice system, Smith could be held for a maximum of five years at Long Creek Youth Development Center before being released at age 21. Tried as an adult, Smith faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

One factor in Benson’s decision was the seriousness of the crime, with the judge writing in his decision, “This homicide was an act of extreme violence and one in which Smith was an active participant. Kim was strangled by both Smith and (Lukas) Mironovas until she was at the point of death. Once at that point, Mironovas then took a knife and stabbed her three times in the throat.”

Smith has already acknowledged there is probable cause to believe he committed the offenses, so it seems likely he’ll be indicted on those same charges, his attorney, Walter McKee, said.

“This decision was tremendously unfortunate to say the least,” McKee said. “Will was a 15 year old high school freshman when he was charged with committing this crime and will now face a mandatory minimum 25 years in adult prison. I certainly understand how the judge decided the way he did, but I think it is safe to say I completely disagree with it. Will should have been allowed to stay at Long Creek until he was 21. The experts agreed that was the best place for him.”

Marc Malon, legislative and press liaison for the state Attorney General’s Office, declined to comment other than saying the ruling speaks for itself and the next step is to present the case to a grand jury.

Lukas Mironovas, 16, is also charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder and is scheduled for a hearing next month to determine whether he will be tried as an adult.

A third teen, Thomas “T.J.” Severance, 14, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and has been committed to Long Creek until he is 21.

Police say the three teens planned to kill Kimberly Mironovas, in part because they were mad at her for accusing them of stealing her marijuana the previous night.

Smith told police that he helped strangle Kimberly Mironovas but that he stopped after a few seconds because he couldn’t go through with it. Lukas Mironovas strangled her and then stabbed her, he told investigators.

Benson, in his 18-page decision, said the killing was premeditated and it was Smith who first suggested they kill Kimberly and take her car. Benson said that Smith appears to have been the “ringleader in the murder of Kimberly Mironovas,” although testimony at Smith’s bind-over hearing also indicated that Lukas Mironovas had admitted to a police officer he did “most of it.” Benson wrote that he accepts the finding of psychologists who testified that Smith poses less risk to the public than many, if not most, juvenile offenders and that there is some realistic possibility of rehabilitation in the juvenile system.

But he expressed concern that the longest possible commitment in the juvenile system would be five years.

“Even if there were a guarantee that Smith would be fully rehabilitated during a commitment to a Department of Corrections juvenile detention facility – a prospect the Court finds unlikely – such a disposition would only serve to grossly diminish the gravity of the offense in the view of the Court,” Benson wrote.

In his written closing arguments, McKee said Smith participated in the slaying for only a few seconds, Lukas Mironovas told police he was the primary actor in his mother’s death, and Smith has no criminal record despite an upbringing that included a drug-addicted mother.

“Will has established by a preponderance of the evidence that it is appropriate for him to not be bound over,” McKee wrote. “Doing otherwise would reject the overwhelming evidence in this case and double the tragedy here between the loss of Ms. Mironovas and throwing Will into a prison in which he does not belong, and which the evidence would not support.”

Assistant Attorney General Katie Silsby, who assisted prosecutor Meg Elam in the case, wrote in her closing arguments that the murder of Mironovas was premeditated and violent, and the only evidence offered that Smith stopped strangling the victim is from Smith himself. Being detained for only five years would be “a grotesque diminishment of the gravity of the brutal murder committed by Smith and Mironovas,” she said.

“As tragic as the murder of Kimberly Mironovas is, we have no power to reverse time and undo circumstances that brought Smith to the point that he was willing to suggest, plan, strangle, and punch another human being causing death, because she was rude and he wanted a car,” Sibley wrote. “Smith has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is inappropriate to prosecute him as an adult.”

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