The Portland courtroom was full of adults – lawyers, police officers, jurors, observers – but the voice playing over the speaker was a child’s.

“I think my mom screamed like right before the bullet hit her,” the 9-year-old girl said on the recording. “I don’t know. I didn’t want to hear much or see much more, so …”

Noah Gaston appears in Cumberland County Superior Court on Wednesday, the first day of testimony in his murder trial. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The small voice trailed off into the silence of the courtroom.

The recording, played Friday during day three of her father’s trial on murder and manslaughter charges, was from just hours after Noah Gaston shot his 34-year-old wife in the stairwell of their Windham home on Jan. 14, 2016. The speaker was one of their three children, telling a police detective about the noises that woke her up before sunrise and changed the family forever.

Their father has said he believed Alicia Gaston was an intruder, but prosecutors have argued that he intended to kill her, or at least knew he was shooting at his wife. Now 37, he is on trial this week at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Most of the testimony Friday was dedicated to Detectives Ethel Ross and Lawrence Rose, who were investigators from the Maine State Police.

Ross interviewed Gaston on the day of the shooting and spoke with the couple’s two young daughters the next day. The children have not been forced to testify, but the jury heard clips Friday from recorded interviews with the two daughters conducted around the time of the shooting.

Alicia Gaston Press Herald file photo

In his opening statement, defense attorney Robert Andrews accused the investigators of jumping too quickly to a theory of domestic violence. He questioned Ross about when she thought the girls woke up and how she interpreted their statements about what they heard that morning.

Early police affidavits suggested that at least one of the girls might have heard the couple arguing, but as the investigation continued, later documents describe those sounds as yelling in “scared voices.”

“When did you make the decision that you were investigating this as a crime?” Andrews asked.

“Well, we were investigating a shooting, trying to figure out what happened, and during my interview with Noah, I listened to what he said. … If you’re looking for a specific date, I don’t know,” Ross answered.

The prosecutors and defense attorneys both questioned the detectives about their attempts to re-create the shooting in multiple ways.

The detectives described visiting the home in the early hours of the day after the shooting to see the light conditions in the stairwell, and later, they used a forensic mannequin to estimate Alicia Gaston’s location on the stairs. When testimony resumes Monday, they said, they plan to bring a model of the staircase into the courtroom.

While cameras set up by police the morning after the shooting failed to capture any action in the predawn house, the detectives said the light was bright enough for them to see what was happening. At one point, Rose said, he was standing in the master bedroom and could see details because of a floodlight in the backyard. The prosecutors have said Gaston had to have known his wife was not in their bed.

“I could see the bed,” Rose said. “I could tell it was unmade. I could tell the way the blankets were messed up.”

And he said he could see a pacifier in the blankets, left behind by the family’s youngest child.

“So it wasn’t too dark for you to see that binkie?” Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam asked.

“No, it wasn’t,” Rose said.

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