Hillary Goding appeared in court Thursday to change her plea at the Penobscot Judicial Center. Goding pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection to the death of her three-year-old child, Hailey, in June 2021. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

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An Old Town woman accused of killing her 3-year old daughter in June 2021 pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Thursday, marking a resolution of one of three cases from that month in which a Bangor-area parent was accused of killing a child.

Hillary Goding, 29, was indicted by a Penobscot County grand Jury in August 2021 on charges of depraved indifference murder, manslaughter and violating conditions of her release related to the death of her daughter Hailey.

Mugshot of Hillary Goding (courtesy Penobscot Country Sheriff’s Office).

Goding on Thursday pleaded guilty to manslaughter and violating conditions of her release. In exchange, the charge of depraved indifference murder will be dropped at her sentencing.

Additionally, as part of the deal, both Goding’s attorney and the Maine attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, jointly recommended she be sentenced to 25 to 28 years in prison with all but 17 to 22 years suspended, followed by six years of probation. 

She will be sentenced at a later date.

“I am ready to just plead guilty and take accountability for my part in things,” Goding told Superior Court Justice William Anderson in court Thursday.

Goding was initially arrested June 6, 2021, the same day Hailey was pronounced dead at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Initially, Goding pleaded not guilty.

An autopsy revealed that Hailey died from a brain injury that was consistent with an opioid overdose, and an initial urine screen at EMMC revealed the 3-year-old had fentanyl in her system, according to Maine State Police Det. Dana Austin’s affidavit for Goding’s arrest, which revealed that Hailey had previously ingested drugs about a year earlier.

Goding carried Hailey’s lifeless body in and out of her Old Town apartment for 20 hours before seeking medical help, according to Austin’s affidavit.

Hailey was one of three children in the Bangor region allegedly killed by a parent in June 2021, prompting a fresh round of scrutiny for the state’s child welfare system and an outside investigation into the deaths.

A month after Goding’s arrest, her $50,000 bail was revoked, and she was charged with violating conditions of release. Goding had allegedly contacted a potential witness in the case at least 12 times from the Penobscot County Jail, violating one of the bail conditions.

The police account of the case begins just before 4 a.m. on Friday, June 4, when surveillance footage from cameras in Goding’s Center Street apartment building picked up audio of a woman crying inside Goding’s apartment, then footage of Goding carrying Hailey in the hallway moments later.

Hailey appeared “limp,” according to the affidavit.

Goding did not call 911 until nearly 20 hours later, at 10:48 p.m. on June 4, after security cameras captured Goding walking in and out of the apartment several more times, with Hailey appearing “lifeless,” according to police.

Old Town first responders arrived at 10:52 p.m. Police Officer Alan Reese, who was first on scene, observed that Hailey was on the floor of a bedroom and had no pulse.

An Old Town Fire Department member tried to save the child for 15 to 20 minutes.

Hillary Goding told police she believed her daughter consumed heroin after she got into a plastic straw that Goding used to ingest the drug, which is often cut with the more potent fentanyl. Her daughter’s behavior then began to change, and she put the 3-year-old to bed early despite hearing that her daughter’s breathing had become “raspy,” according to the affidavit.

Hailey was pronounced dead on June 6 at 10:04 a.m.

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...