Jessica Trefethen, 35, enters a courtroom where she made her first appearance before a judge in June, 2021 at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

BELFAST, Maine — The woman accused of killing her 3-year-old son last weekend made her first appearance before a judge Friday morning at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast.

Jessica Trefethen, 35, who has also been identified as Jessica Williams and Jessica Johnson,  answered Justice Robert Murray’s questions in a low, monosyllabic voice. The judge said that she had asked to be identified with the last name of Trefethen.

“Do you understand what the state is saying that you did?” he asked.

“Yes,” the Stockton Springs woman replied.

Trefethen, the mother of five, has been charged with the depraved indifference murder of her 3-year-old son, Maddox Williams, after an autopsy showed he had suffered a fractured spine, bruises on his arms, legs, belly and head, bleeding in his brain, a ruptured bowel and other injuries, according to a police affidavit filed Thursday.

She did not make a plea on Friday. Prosecutor Leane Zainea, an assistant attorney general, said that the case will need to go through the grand jury process before Trefethen will be asked to make a plea. Jeff Toothaker, an Ellsworth lawyer, was sitting next to Trefethen in court. He said later Friday morning that he will be assigned to represent Trefethen as her court appointed attorney, along with Caitlyn Smith, a lawyer from Bangor.

Murray asked if Trefethen understood that if she is found guilty, her maximum sentence is life in prison. She nodded, then said yes.

Bail was set for the accused mother at $150,000 cash with no surety, an amount that Toothaker said is unlikely his client will be able to pay. Her bail conditions include having no contact with people under 14, Murray said, and also having no contact with a list of people whose names were read by Zainea. Those included Jason Trefethen, the father of three of her children, who appears to be one of the last people to see Maddox alive, and Andrew Williams, Maddox’s father.

In the police affidavit filed Thursday, Jason Trefethen told detectives that on Sunday, the day that Maddox died, Jessica Trefethen asked him to watch the kids. When he went inside the house, he saw the little boy sitting in a recliner chair in the living room “sitting with a blank stare and slumped over.”

Jason Trefethen told Jessica Trefethen that Maddox needed to go to the hospital, police wrote. Jessica Trefethen then told Jason Trefethen “I didn’t do it,” which he told police that he found an odd thing to say.

Zainea said that depraved indifference murder is defined by statute, and involves conduct that has a disregard for human life.

Maddox’s death has shaken many in Stockton Springs, the same community where 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy was beaten to death by her mother, Sharon Kennedy, and stepfather, Julio Carrillo, three years ago. It’s also the third time a parent has been charged in the death of a Maine child in less than a month.