Society

Judge Finds 11-Year-Old Incompetent for Trial in Baby Manslaughter Case

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
article imagearticle image

A judge in Maine has ruled that an 11-year-old girl charged with manslaughter of an infant is not competent to stand trial but will likely be competent in the future.

Kelli Murphy was charged with the July 2012 killing of 3-month-old Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway while the baby stayed overnight with Murphy’s mother, Amanda Huard, according to the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Judge Charles LaVerdiere ruled that the conditions of Murphy’s detention and release are unchanged. Her competence will be reexamined by forensic examiners in six months.

In an order released Friday in Skowhegan District Court, LaVerdiere wrote "there is a substantial probability that the juvenile will be competent in the foreseeable future."

"It continues to be [the state's] burden to prove that she is competent," said John Martin, one of Murphy’s two attorneys. "The presumption in the statute is that someone under 14 is not competent."

"Competency looks at what is your status now," said prosecutor William Stokes, who heads the criminal division of the Attorney General's Office. "You could be competent today and incompetent next week. In the adult world, people can be made competent through treatment and medication. In a juvenile, age and maturity play a role."

Stokes explained that as Murphy matures, "she's going to have a better understanding of the charges, the juvenile system, the judicial system and how to participate and cooperate with her attorney. That's the concept."

Police said Murphy is the youngest person in Maine charged with manslaughter in at least 25 years.

The night she babysat Foss-Greenaway, Huard called 911 to report the baby was not breathing. The baby had been in a bedroom with Murphy at the time.

The baby’s mother, Nicole Greenaway, claims she was told the baby died from suffocation and that trace amounts of a medication prescribed to Murphy was found in the baby’s system.

"I understand she's not competent at this time," Greenaway said. "I don't even know what to say. It baffles me, it really baffles me. This little girl needs a lot of help."

Sources: Morning Sentinel, The Republic, Maine Sunday Telegram