A Fairfield mother has lost her bid to have the state’s highest court overturn her conviction for illegally taking two of her children from their guardian in Maine and driving them as far as South Carolina before she was arrested.

BethMarie Retamozzo, 37, had appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which issued its ruling Tuesday.

Retamozzo was convicted by a jury in February 2015 of two counts of criminal restraint by a parent, one count for each child.

The offenses occurred Aug. 15, 2013, when she took the children from their legal guardian — her mother — telling her she was taking them to the Skowhegan Fair and telling a supervisor of the visit that she was going to park in Waterville.

Instead, Retamozzo headed south, allegedly intending to visit a sister in Florida. After a multi-state alert, she was located by police in South Carolina.

Retamozzo opted against testifying at her trial. Retamozzo’s attorney at the appeal, Jamesa Drake, argued that the verdict should be thrown out since Retamozzo’s mother testified that she saw her daughter in jail while picking up the two children to return them to Maine.

Retamozzo voluntarily gave custody of the two children to Taylor in 2009 when Retamozzo wanted to go into the military, according to other court records. That guardianship was continued later by an order of a Somerset County probate judge, who also allowed Retamozzo supervised visits with her children.

In writing the opinion for all seven justices of the supreme court, Associate Justice Humphrey Thomas Humphrey said that the reference was brief and did not prejudice Retamozzo’s right to a fair trial.

“Here, Retamozzo’s mother’s statement was more akin to a ‘fleeting comment’ than it was to seeing a defendant in prison clothes throughout a trial,” he wrote.

Humphrey also noted that the prosecutor moved on quickly to other matters.

After the verdict, a judge sentenced Retamozzo to an initial five months in jail, suspended the remainder of the 2 1/2-year sentence and placed her on probation for two years. Retamozzo’s jail time was postponed until the appeal was decided.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said via email Tuesday that the trial court would issue an order indicating when Retamozzo must report to jail.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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