SKOWHEGAN — A Fairfield woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of her infant son.

Kayla Stewart, 20, entered the pleas during an arraignment in Somerset County Superior Court and is being held without bail at the Somerset County Jail. She is scheduled to undergo a forensic evaluation to determine mental competency, after which her next court appearance will be held.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Stewart said little except to answer questions asked of her by Justice Robert Murray about whether she understood the charges against her and their penalties.

Members of Stewart’s family and her attorneys, Pamela Ames and John Martin, declined to comment outside the courthouse Tuesday.

Stewart gave birth to the infant in December at the home she shared with her boyfriend, Nicholas Blood, on Norridgewock Road in Fairfield, according to a state police affidavit. The couple also has a 3-year-old daughter.

State prosecutors say that after Stewart gave birth to the full-term, healthy baby boy, she killed it by either smothering or suffocating the child, or by leaving it in a cold, unheated garage to die. She allegedly told a state police detective that she “made sure” the baby was dead.

Ames argued at a February bail hearing that Stewart had a miscarriage and panicked, so she was not responsible for the child’s death.

In January, a special agent for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency notified state police of the case after learning “about a suspicious infant death involving a person who she had dealt with in the past,” according to a police affidavit in the case.

The baby’s remains were found by authorities Jan. 11. The child’s date of birth listed in the indictment is Dec. 30, the same day as the alleged crimes.

State police found the full-term baby boy with a placenta still attached, wrapped in a blanket and trash bags under an oil tank and behind a sheet of insulation after Stewart’s mother had called police with her concerns about the baby’s fate two days earlier, according to the affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Scott Bryant.

She was arrested and charged with murder Jan. 22 at the 457 Norridgewock Road, Fairfield, residence she shared with her boyfriend, Nicholas Blood, who has not been charged.

Earlier this month a grand jury indicted Stewart on the murder charge as well as a charge of manslaughter.

Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney told the Morning Sentinel at the time that it is not unusual for a grand jury to bring up more than one charge in a homicide case, even if the charges involve the same actions.

“We often charge cases with more than one theory of the case,” Maloney said, adding that each charge depends on the alleged perpetrator’s mental state. “If she were convicted of both counts, they would be consolidated before sentencing. This means she will only be sentenced on one count, because both counts involved the same actions.”

Both murder and manslaughter are felonies punishable, upon conviction, by a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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