Argued: March 3, 2017
J. Drake, Esq. (orally), Drake Law, LLC, Auburn for appellant
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Donald W. Macomber, Asst.
Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee State of Maine.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
On January 2, 2013, Dustin Brown was indicted for
manslaughter (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. 203(1)(A) (2016), to
which he pleaded not guilty. The trial court (Penobscot
County, Anderson, J.) held a three-day jury-waived
trial in November of 2015. Brown appeals from the judgment of
conviction for manslaughter entered after that trial. He
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his
conviction. We affirm the judgment.
The following facts, all of which are supported by the
record, were found by the court after trial. On November 25,
2012, Brown was in his bedroom at his residence in Bangor
along with his three-month-old son and the infants mother.
Sometime before 4:00 p.m. that day, during the infants
afternoon feeding, the mother gave their son to Brown to care
for and left the room to use the bathroom. During the time
that Brown was alone in the bedroom with the infant, both the
infants mother and his grandmother, who was in another room
in the home, heard the infant "fussing" or crying
slightly. Within minutes, Brown came out of the bedroom
carrying the infant, who was limp, and told the grandmother
there was "something wrong" with the infant. Brown
called 9-1-1, and he and the grandmother attempted to
resuscitate the infant while they waited for help to arrive.
When paramedics arrived at 4:05 p.m., the infant had no pulse
and was not breathing. The infant was taken to the hospital,
where he was declared dead at 5:30 p.m.
Initially, Brown told everyone he spoke with that he had been
feeding the infant when the infant suddenly "went
limp." Later, Brown told both the infants mother and his
new girlfriend that the infants head had bumped into his chin
and he had instinctively pushed or jerked the infant away
By judgment dated January 29, 2016, the court convicted Brown
of manslaughter, finding:
[Brown] caused this traumatic brain injury to his son, most
likely by pushing him away very, very aggressively in a way
that fits the definition of criminal negligence in that it
would involve a gross deviation from the standard of conduct
that a reasonable and prudent person would observe in the
same situation. . . . [T]he gross deviation finding [is]
based on primarily the expert testimony concerning the degree
of force, the amount of force that would be needed in order
to cause this result. This isnt the type of treatment that a
child gets on a daily basis, because this doesnt happen on a
daily basis. This was somewhat unique and it was too forceful
and too traumatic to the child and caused the childs death.
On February 26, 2016, the court sentenced Brown to twelve
years in prison with all but four and a half years suspended
and four years of probation. Brown appealed.
Brown argues that the court erred in convicting him of
manslaughter because there was insufficient evidence to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt how he injured the infant
and, therefore, insufficient evidence to establish that his
actions were voluntary and met the statutory definition of
criminal negligence. In support of his argument, he
points to the courts statements that "the State has ...