Miranda Hopkins, the Troy mother charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of her infant son last month, is free on bail and will be allowed to see her two other young sons.

Hopkins was released Tuesday night from Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset after a Waldo County grand jury returned an indictment of manslaughter against her. The original charge of murder she faced was dismissed by the jury in favor of manslaughter, which made her eligible for bail under Maine law.

Laura Shaw McDonald, one of two attorneys at Camden Law appointed by the court to represent the woman, said Hopkins was released on $50,000 worth of property and is ordered not to use or possess alcohol or illegal drugs and is subject to random searches and testing.

McDonald said she met with Hopkins on Wednesday morning after Hopkins’ first night of freedom since state police arrested her Jan. 13 at her home on North Dixmont Road in Troy. The indictment charges that Hopkins “did recklessly or with criminal negligence” cause the death of Jaxson Hopkins, who was born Nov. 21.

“I did meet with her,” McDonald said Thursday. “We enjoyed a tearful reunion the morning after she was released. She is very excited and relieved to be out. She was overwhelmed with support from family and friends who immediately reached out to her after finding out that she had been released.”

Hopkins, 32, originally was charged with knowing or depraved indifference murder, punishable by 25 years to life in prison, related to the death Jan. 12 of 7-week-old Jaxson Hopkins. Manslaughter is a class A felony, as is a charge of murder, but it carries a lesser penalty. It’s punishable by a period of time in prison not to exceed 30 years.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt but is a determination by the grand jury that there’s enough evidence in a case to proceed with trial.

McDonald said Hopkins is motivated to work closely with her attorneys in proving that she is innocent of the manslaughter charge. She said conditions of Hopkins’ bail conditions don’t prevent her from visiting with her two sons, 6 and 8, but she is to have no contact otherwise with children under age 6. The two boys are staying with relatives.

McDonald would not say where Hopkins is staying as she awaits arraignment, scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 24 in Belfast.

Hopkins contends in court documents that one or both of her boys, both of whom are autistic, might have caused the death of their infant brother, possible by crushing the child while rolling over in bed.

But police and prosecutors paint a different picture of the events of Jan. 12, using Hopkins’ own admission that she had been drinking whiskey and took a dose of the antihistamine drug Benadryl, according to a police affidavit filed with the court.

In the affidavit, the baby’s cause of death is listed as blunt force head injuries that included cuts and bruises on the head and skull, rib fractures, and bleeding on the surface of the brain.

Hopkins allegedly told authorities she had awakened to find her baby cold, white and “beat to hell.” The infant was pronounced dead at the scene. Hopkins lived with Jaxson and the two other sons. In interviews with police, Hopkins said the older boy possibly crawled into bed and crushed or suffocated the baby.

But Hopkins also told police she must have “blacked out” and was “so drunk that she did not remember,” according to the police affidavit filed with the court.

Hopkins had been ordered held without bail, as is customary for a murder charge in Maine. She did not enter a plea Jan. 17 during her initial appearance in court.

A bail hearing, called a Harnish hearing, had been set for Jan. 23 in Belfast District Court; but her court-appointed defense attorney, Christopher MacLean, filed a motion to postpone the hearing to give them more time to mount a defense. A Harnish hearing is a process in which prosecutors seek to have a judge deny bail to a defendant accused of one of a handful of serious crimes, murder being one of them.

McDonald, MacLean’s associate, said earlier this week that a Harnish hearing no longer was necessary because the murder charge was changed to manslaughter.

Under Maine law, after being arrested, defendants have an automatic right to have bail set, McDonald said. But when a defendant is charged with murder, the state can ask for a Harnish hearing to have that automatic right to bail taken away.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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