AUGUSTA — Kimberly Mironovas died of strangulation and stab wounds to her neck, a state medical examiner determined, but that same medical examiner said in court Wednesday her autopsy did not reveal which of two teens involved in an altercation with the Litchfield woman is the one who actually caused her death last April.

Kristin G. Sweeney, a part-time contract employee of the state Medical Examiner’s Office, where she’s worked since 1991, testified that either the strangulation or stabbing Mironovas suffered could have been what caused her death, that’s why she put both in her autopsy report.

Walter McKee, attorney for William Smith who is now 16 but who was 15 when Mironovas was killed, of Ashland, Massachusetts, one of three teenagers accused in Mironovas’ killing, pushed Sweeney on who was likely to have caused Mironovas’ death, but she said who did the strangling was not part of her role in conducting an autopsy.

She did say, under questioning on the stand, that she doubted someone would die as the result of strangulation causing an obstruction in the trachea after only five, 10 or 15 seconds. And that if a second person were involved in a more extended period of strangulation, following the first shorter period, that it would seem more likely that the more extended period of strangulation caused her death.

On Tuesday, a psychologist for the defense said Smith told her he briefly helped strangle Mironovas after her son Lukas Mironovas cried out for help as he struggled to kill his mother, but that he stopped after a few or several seconds because he couldn’t go though with it. The psychologist said Smith told her he turned away as Lukas Mironovas took over strangling Kimberly Mironovas, and that he then heard Lukas stab his mother with a knife.

Wednesday was the second day of a bind-over hearing to determine if Smith should be tried as an adult or a juvenile.

Chris Sandoval, father of William Smith, one of three teens charged in the April 2018 death of Kimberly Mironovas, testifies during a hearing on Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Smith and the now 16-year-old Lukas Mironovas are accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder while a third teen who was at Mironovas’ 1482 Hallowell Road home during the April 22 incident, the now 14-year-old Thomas “TJ” Severance, was accused of, and has since pleaded guilty to, conspiracy to commit murder. He has been committed to Long Creak Youth Development Center until he is 21 years old. A bind-over hearing for Lukas Mironovas has not yet been scheduled.

Prosecutor Meg Elam and McKee noted that Smith has admitted there is probable cause indicating that he was involved in the death of Mironovas to some extent.

McKee said that agreement means if Judge Andrew Benson determines Smith should be treated as a juvenile, he would be committed to Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland until he is 21 years old, when he’d be released.

The stakes are high because if the judge determines Smith should be tried as an adult, he’d likely be indicted and face a murder trial, and, if found guilty in that, could face a minimum sentence of 25 years, and a maximum of life, in prison.

In a recording of an interview of Severance by Maine State Police Detective Scott Quintero played in court Wednesday Severance is heard telling Quintero “Will was like, I have an idea, maybe we should kill your mom. Lukas said ‘I’m down with that.'”

State police Detective Jonah O’Roak, part of the state’s evidence response team, said Mironovas’ bedroom had red and brown stains on the sheet, comforter and frame of the bed, as well as on the rug and a light switch, glass cleaner on the nightstand, and a kitchen knife, also with a red and brown stain on it, which appeared to have been smeared or wiped off on the bed.

Sweeney said her autopsy found that Kimberly Mironovas had suffered stab wounds on her neck, wounds to her hand and wrist, contusions to her face, abrasions and scrapes on her neck and had bleeding underneath her scalp that was from blunt force injuries. She had lost some blood but not enough for that alone to have caused her death, which Sweeney said was caused by strangulation and stabbing.

Factors to be considered by the court in determining whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult include the seriousness of the crime, the characteristics of the juvenile including his or her record, age and attitude and pattern of living, public safety and whether future criminal conduct by the juvenile would be deterred by the juvenile justice system.

Jeffrey Bachelder, a unit manager at Long Creek where Smith has been housed since being arrested, testified that Smith had done some things requiring discipline at Long Creek, primarily not going to bed when told to do so, and slapping another youth there on the neck, but that overall, and compared to many of his peers at the facility, he had been relatively well behaved and had spent a significant amount of time classified as a “Level 4” youth, which Bachelder said is a level for a kid who doesn’t do anything wrong. But he noted Smith also slides backwards again, and loses that Level 4 status.

Smith’s dad Chris Sandoval testified he has seen improvement in his son’s behavior since he has been at Long Creek.

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam, left, shows Dr. Kristin Sweeney, who works for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, pictures that will be entered into evidence during a Wednesday hearing about whether to charge William Smith, one of three teens charged in the April 2018 death of Kimberly Mironovas, as an adult at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Sandoval has custody of Smith and said Smith’s mother, Morgan, has a drug addiction and has been in and out of Smith’s life. Sandoval said he sent Smith to go live with his grandparents, William and Cherise Smith, in West Virginia, for a year after the younger Smith was caught selling marijuana at his Massachusetts school. He said it was painful for him to do but he was working during the day and it was hard for him to watch his son then, and that Smith loved and was well cared for by his grandparents.

Smith lived in West Virginia with his grandparents for a year, during his seventh grade in school, moving back to Massachusetts for his eighth-grade year.

Dr. Kristin Sweeney, who works for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, gestures toward her own head while answering questions about where there were injuries on the head of murder victim Kimberly Mironovas during a hearing on Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

William “Scott” Smith, the younger Smith’s grandfather, testified the year went well, and Smith was enrolled in a Christian school near their home, where he took a full course load and passed. His grandparents helped him with his homework.

“It went fine. Will is a loving, caring person, easy to get along with,” the grandfather said of his grandson. “We did outdoor stuff, a lot of hiking. Things went fine. We didn’t have any problems at all.”

The three teens were arrested the morning of April 22, 2018, with Smith driving in Mironovas’ car.

The court hearing is expected to resume Thursday morning.

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