BELFAST — The lawyer for Miranda Hopkins, who has been charged with manslaughter in the death of her 7-week-old son, Jaxson Hopkins, is filing a motion to have a polygraph examination introduced as evidence that her client did not commit the crime.

Laura Shaw, the attorney for Hopkins, filed a motion to admit the test and its results, as they “overwhelmingly demonstrated” that Hopkins was innocent. According to the filing, the examination, conducted by licensed polygraph administrator Mark Teceno, indicated there was more than a 99 percent certainty that Hopkins was telling the truth. According to the filing, Hopkins willingly submitted to the examination and stated she did not inflict the injuries on her son.

Hopkins called 911 in January of this year from her trailer home in Troy, saying her infant son was unresponsive. The infant was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the baby’s 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 originally was charged with knowing or depraved indifference murder, punishable by 25 years to life in prison. She was indicted by a Waldo County grand jury in February on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Hopkins allegedly told authorities she woke up and found her baby cold, white and “beat to hell.” The infant was pronounced dead at the scene. Hopkins lived with Jaxson and two other sons, ages 6 and 8, who both have autism, she told police. She told authorities it was possible the older boy crawled into bed and crushed or suffocated the baby.

But Hopkins allegedly also told police she must have “blacked out” and was “so drunk that she did not remember,” saying she had drunk whiskey and ingested the antihistamine drug Benadryl, according to a police affidavit filed with the court. She was arrested Jan. 13, the day after her son died.


Hopkins contended in court documents that one or both of her other sons might have killed their infant brother, possibly by crushing the child while rolling over in bed.

Hopkins is expected to be in court Thursday to suppress statements she made during interviews with police. Shaw said none of Hopkins’ statements can be considered voluntary based on the way the police handled the interviews, questioning Hopkins for 12 hours at a time and not allowing her to call family members.

The attorney general’s office was provided a written report after the test from Teceno, which stated he met with Hopkins three times to complete the examination, according to Shaw’s filing. The first meeting was at the Two Bridges Regional Jail, where she was introduced to the process.

The second meeting was at Shaw’s office, where Teceno questioned Hopkins about the allegations and her personal history and where she was “very emotional” and “often cried,” according to the report. Teceno also questioned Hopkins about her medical and mental health to determine if she was suitable for the test. She revealed she had been diagnosed with “depressive and anxiety disorders.” Hopkins told Teceno she had been prescribed medications for the disorders but stopped taking them without direction. Teceno deemed she was not suitable for the examination that day, and she would be “only marginally suitable for a polygraph examination on another day.”

Teceno met with her again the next day, Aug. 3, when she seemed “more composed and less emotionally fragile.” She was deemed suitable for the examination that day.

The report states Teceno viewed the medical examiner’s report and photos. The infant suffered numerous head injuries, as well as bodily injuries that were concealed by pajamas. The report states Hopkins said she did not review the autopsy photos or diagrams, and that the only injuries she saw were those to the infant’s head.


After the test was administered, Teceno’s results concluded that the data collected from Hopkins “was not likely collected from a person being deceptive.”

The filing concedes that the Law Court generally has stated polygraph examinations are not sufficiently reliable to allow the results or a defendant’s willingness or unwillingness to take the test as evidence. But Shaw states that the decision to exclude polygraph evidence from admission in trial is not binding in this court for a number of reasons.

The motion states the case that initially decided this question dates to 1954, when cases were based on “an evidentiary standard that has since been overruled requiring ‘general acceptance in the community'” and are therefore not the same standards used by the law court today. The motion also states that in those early cases, polygraph tests had not been developed enough so that the result could be considered competent evidence. It says that “faith in the reliability of polygraphs has been significantly enhanced over the years by the numerous favorable case studies and experiments that have been conducted and articles that have been written about the process.”

Shaw argues that further evidence of the reliability of polygraphs is reflected in a “general shift” toward the use of polygraph examinations in a variety of contexts, which includes the legal setting. She argues that at least 18 states admit polygraph results “upon the stipulation of the parties.” She writes that “polygraph examinations are scientifically more reliable than other forms of evidence that are consistently admitted into evidence by this court” and that the majority of laboratory and field studies place accuracy rates of these between 85 percent and 90 percent.

“In short, the Law Court decisions excluding polygraph examinations from evidence in the past are not binding in this case,” she wrote. “Instead, this court must make its own independent, discretionary determination of whether the polygraph examination taken in this case is sufficiently reliable to be admitted under the standard.”

The filing said the results should be admitted at least for the limited purpose of rebutting arguments made by the state and corroborate the defendant’s testimony. Shaw writes that Hopkins repeatedly has denied harming her son in any way and denied the charge during the polygraph, so her denials should be admitted to corroborate her prior statements. The filing also said that the state’s initial complaint and expected theory in the case centers on Hopkins’ credibility.


“Both her willingness to take the polygraph examination and the results of that examination rebut the State’s anticipated argument that the Defendant is not being truthful and should be admitted for that purpose.”

The filing says the state would have the ability to cross-examine Teceno on a variety of issues, including error rates and methods used. Those arguments go to the weight of the case and not the polygraph’s admissibility.

Ahead of the hearings, Shaw said the state’s evidence in the case is mostly circumstantial and will come down to Hopkins’ credibility.

“The polygraph evidence is completely reliable to show that the defendant is being truthful when she says that she didn’t hurt her baby,” Shaw said.

Shaw said Maine has a history of not admitting polygraph evidence, but there is a general shift in the country to admit this type of evidence. She said she hopes the court will look at the changes in technology and scientific advances and “look at this with a set of fresh eyes, rather than rely on what’s been said in the past.”

Shaw said the state has been notified that Hopkins passed the polygraph but is still going forward with charges.


“We are shocked that the State is not only continuing to prosecute a woman who has proven her innocence, but is asking that this evidence of her innocence be hidden from the jury,” Shaw said in an email. “Because the State is choosing to ignore evidence of Miranda’s innocence, we have been forced to file this motion to ask the judge to admit the evidence at trial.”

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.