Jessica Trefethen looks at the jury during her trial in Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast in October 2022. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday denied a Stockton Springs woman’s appeal of her murder conviction in the death of her 3-year-old son.

Maddox Williams Photo from the #justiceformaddox GoFundMe page

Jessica Trefethen, 37, who also goes by the name Jessica Williams, was found guilty in October 2022 of depraved indifference murder in the death of Maddox Williams. Maddox died on June 20, 2021, after he was taken to a hospital with multiple injuries and staff were unable to resuscitate him. The state medical examiner’s office concluded that Maddox died of battered child syndrome.

Trefethen was sentenced to 47 years in prison and is serving her sentence at Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

Trefethen’s attorneys argued that her conviction should be overturned and she should be granted a new trial because the state didn’t have direct evidence that she caused Maddox’s injuries and that the court had improperly allowed testimony that she had previously “thrown” Maddox to the floor.

But the court ruled Thursday that circumstantial evidence can be sufficient for a conviction and that in Trefethen’s case “the jury could have rationally found beyond a reasonable doubt that Williams’s conduct caused the non-accidental injuries to Maddox’s internal organs that directly led to his death.”

The written ruling said that “in light of our longstanding rule that circumstantial evidence may support a conviction, and noting that circumstantial evidence is often, unavoidably, the only evidence the state can present in cases of abuse of a very young child by a parent or other adult, we conclude that there was no error in the trial court’s denial of Williams’s motion for a judgment of acquittal.”

Maddox was one of more than two dozen children whose deaths in 2021 were flagged by the Office of Children and Family Services.

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