BELFAST — The Troy woman charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of her infant son pleaded not guilty to the charge Friday afternoon in court.

Miranda Hopkins, 32, has been free on bail after a Waldo County grand jury indicted her on the manslaughter charge, a lesser count than the original charge of murder filed by authorities. Manslaughter is a Class A felony that’s punishable by a period of time in prison not to exceed 30 years, whereas a conviction on a murder charge would have brought a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Hopkins was dressed Friday in dark clothing and a beige sweater, no longer in a jail outfit since she was released from Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

Hopkins entered the courtroom about 1 p.m. with her lawyers, Christopher MacLean and Laura Shaw McDonald, with Justice Robert Murray presiding.

Following Hopkins’ not guilty plea, Murray ordered a psychological evaluation of the woman.

After the court hearing, McDonald said, “Miranda has never been diagnosed with any mental illness before.”

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, originally filed a motion for both a forensic psychological evaluation and a competency evaluation, but with rebuttal in the courtroom by MacLean, the lead defense attorney, the competency request was withdrawn.

Forensic psychology involves the study of human behavior as it applies to the law, and in this case, the violent death of an infant.

Zainea said the primary reason she was asking for a forensic psychological examination was to preserve evidence of Hopkins’ state of mind as close as possible to the date the infant died, in case Hopkins’ defense team raised issues of criminal responsibility or abnormal condition of the mind at trial.

“It’s always very helpful to know what the defendant’s state of mind was at the time of the alleged criminal conduct,” Zainea told the justice.

MacLean objected, noting additional “interrogation” would serve no purpose, adding it would be best to wait until a dispositional hearing in April “as a better compromise.”

Murray split the difference, ordering a psychological evaluation to be done on Hopkins by an examiner from the State Forensics Service.

“The evaluation will be impounded from the state until, or unless, she (Hopkins) raises some sort of issue on the issues of abnormal conditions of the mind or criminal responsibility, and we don’t expect that that will happen at this time,” McDonald told reporters outside the courthouse.

A dispositional conference with both sides and the justice has been set for 8:30 a.m. April 24 at the Waldo County courthouse in Belfast.

Hopkins did not speak to reporters following the arraignment. Two friends of the family who attended the hearing declined to comment outside the courthouse.

McDonald said they were happy with the outcome of Friday’s arraignment in superior court.

“Miranda has plead not guilty to a charge of manslaughter, and she’s feeling very confident about going forward and having her day in court,” McDonald said. “Miranda is doing exceptionally well. We’ve been very impressed with her throughout this entire proceeding.”

Hopkins was originally charged with knowing or depraved indifference murder related to the death Jan. 12 of 7-week-old Jaxson Hopkins.

Following her indictment on the manslaughter charge, Hopkins was released earlier this month on $50,000 worth of property and was ordered not to use or possess alcohol or illegal drugs and is subject to random searches and testing. She will be allowed to see her two other sons. McDonald would not say if Hopkins has seen or visited with her two sons.

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 have pointed to 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. Hopkins told police she must have “blacked out” and was “so drunk that she did not remember,” according to the document.

The baby’s cause of death was 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.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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