Argued: June 12, 2018
P. Shaw, Esq. (orally), Camden Law LLP, Camden, for appellant
Miranda G. Hopkins
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, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Miranda G. Hopkins appeals from a judgment of conviction of
manslaughter (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 2O3(1)(A) (2017),
entered in the trial court (Waldo County, R. Murray,
J.) following a jury trial. Hopkins contends that the
court erred in (1) denying her motion to suppress statements
she made to law enforcement officers during five different
interviews and (2) giving the jury an allegedly confusing
instruction on concurrent causation. Hopkins also challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury's
conclusion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Hopkins caused
the death of her infant son. We affirm the judgment.
FACTS AND PRETRIAL HISTORY
This statement of the facts and pretrial history includes
reference to five different statements that Hopkins made to
law enforcement officers at various times. Those statements
were subject to a motion to suppress and are at issue in this
appeal. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to
the State, the jury, at the trial, and the court, at the
motion hearing, rationally could have found the following
facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v.
Nobles, 2018 ME 26, ¶ 2, 179 A.3d 910; State v.
Gerry, 2016 ME 163, ¶ 2, 150 A.3d 810.
On the morning of January 11, 2017, Miranda Hopkins sent two
of her three children-her eight-year-old son and six-year-old
son-to school. Hopkins, with her seven-week-old son, then
joined a friend and the friend's son for coffee and some
shopping. Hopkins, her friend, and their children returned to
Hopkins's home that afternoon to wait for Hopkins's
older sons to return home from school.
While waiting for the older boys, Hopkins and her friend
drank shots of Fireball whiskey and smoked marijuana. The
older boys arrived home around 3:30 p.m. After the boys
arrived home, Hopkins and her friend each had a couple more
shots of Fireball whiskey. Around 5:30 p.m., Hopkins's
cousin and her cousin's daughter arrived at Hopkins's
home for dinner. About twenty or thirty minutes later,
Hopkins's friend and her son left Hopkins's home.
Hopkins had "a few more shots" of Fireball whiskey
with her cousin. Hopkins "wasn't counting" but
estimated that between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. she consumed
roughly seven shots of Fireball whiskey, smoked marijuana,
and took a Benadryl.
Around 8:00 p.m., Hopkins's cousin and her cousin's
daughter left, and Hopkins began her nighttime routine by
getting her older boys ready for bed. While she was helping
the older boys, she put the baby in a bouncy seat in the
living room. Hopkins got the boys into their bed and began
feeling very "spinny" and "not feeling well at
all." Hopkins lay down at the foot of the older
boys' bed and "fell asleep big time." She awoke
much later that night due to a "gall bladder
attack." Hopkins got an ice pack and then lay down in
her own bed. She "wasn't paying attention to
anything" as she walked from the older boys' room,
into the kitchen, and then into her bedroom.
Hopkins dozed off and then woke up again. Upon waking up, she
reached over and felt the baby's "ice cold"
hand. She testified that the baby was in his
"boppy" in an unnatural position and that his head
was "wrong." She immediately jumped out of bed,
turned on the lights, and grabbed her phone to dial
At around 1:47 a.m., Hopkins called 9-1-1 and reported that
the baby was not breathing, was cold to the touch, and had a
big bruise on him. She told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that one of
her older boys must have jumped on the baby in the night, but
that she had not heard him cry or any other noises. The
dispatcher instructed Hopkins to perform cardiopulmonary
At around 2:06 a.m., a Waldo County Sheriff's deputy
arrived at Hopkins's home. She found Hopkins performing
CPR on the baby on the floor in her bedroom. The deputy took
over CPR and noticed that the baby had a "significant
amount of bruising" on his forehead and chest, had
scratches on his face and neck, and was stiff and cold. While
performing CPR, the deputy contacted her dispatch center and
requested that a detective come to investigate.
Around 2:16 a.m., emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
arrived at the home and took over CPR from the deputy. The
EMTs brought in an automatic external defibrillator (AED),
which is able to sense any cardiac rhythm that is shockable,
and attached the paddles to the baby. There was no shockable
rhythm, and the EMTs pronounced the baby dead.
While the EMTs were working on the baby, the deputy left the
bedroom and went into the living room to speak with Hopkins.
The deputy advised Hopkins that her baby was dead. Hopkins
said that she knew he was gone, mentioned the bruising, and
said that she didn't know how the baby got the bruises,
but believed that one of the older boys had been responsible.
She pointed out her eight-year-old son, sleeping on the
couch, to the deputy, then took the deputy down the hall to
see her six-year-old son, who was still sleeping in his bed.
The deputy explained to Hopkins that, in all child death
cases, it was standard procedure to call a detective and that
a detective would be arriving shortly. Hopkins then told the
deputy about her day, which ended with her and the baby going
to bed around 9:00 p.m. As they spoke, the deputy smelled
alcohol on Hopkins's breath. The deputy asked Hopkins if
she had anything to drink that night. Hopkins told her that
she woke up around 11:30 p.m. with gall bladder pain and had
a "couple of shots" of Fireball whiskey to help
with the pain. Hopkins said that she then went back to bed.
She said that she woke up a few hours later, reached over to
the baby, and found him cold, stiff, and unresponsive, at
which point she called 9-1-1. Hopkins told the deputy that
she thought that her oldest son must have killed the baby,
but she admitted that she had not heard the baby cry out or
felt the bed moving.
Around 3:00 a.m., a Maine State Police detective sergeant
arrived at Hopkins's home. Upon the detective
sergeant's arrival, the deputy met him outside to brief
him on the situation. Upon entering Hopkins's home, the
detective sergeant exchanged introductory remarks with
Hopkins and then gave her Miranda
warnings. Hopkins signed a Miranda waiver
and agreed to participate in a recorded interview.
Hopkins told the detective that she went to bed around 9:00
p.m., then got up around 10:30 p.m. to do the "mommy
thing" and check all the doors to make sure they were
secure, and then went back to sleep. She said that she woke
up later and found the baby cold, bruised, and not breathing.
She described herself to the detective as a "light
sleeper," but said that the baby had not cried, she did
not hear either of the older boys, and neither of the older
boys was in her bed when she woke up. She guessed that one of
her older boys must have climbed into bed beside her and
killed the baby.
Hopkins said that she had never seen either of the older boys
be aggressive with the baby. She said that the baby had been
sleeping "beside [her] like always" in his boppy
and that she did not hear either of the older boys come into
the room. She also said that she "always" had her
three-foot-tall safety gate secured in her bedroom doorway,
and that it had been in place that night. She further
indicated that neither of the older boys understood how to
work the gate.
The deputy then returned inside at the request of Hopkins,
and the detective went outside. The detective left his
recording device on the kitchen table; the device continued
to record Hopkins and the deputy as they conversed. Hopkins
again told the deputy that her oldest son must have killed
the baby. She stated that she was curled up in a ball asleep
on her bed and she didn't feel the bed move, but she
guessed that one of the boys "climbed over the top of
[the baby], like judging by [the baby's] head. Maybe
that's why he didn't make a sound." But she also
said the safety gate was always secured in her bedroom door
and neither of the older boys had ever crawled over the baby
in the bed before because they knew it was his spot.
After the baby's body was removed from the home, Hopkins
agreed to participate in a videotaped walk-through to explain
where she and the baby had been positioned in her bed. A
detective from the Maine State Police and a sergeant from the
Evidence Response Team participated in the videotaped
walk-through interview with Hopkins. During this
walk-through, Hopkins pointed out the boppy, described the
blankets she used to cover the baby up, described her
position on her bed, pointed out the safety gate, and
explained that the safety gate had been in its position that
Later that morning at around 7:30 a.m., Hopkins agreed to be
further interviewed by the detective who participated in the
videotaped walk-through. She met with the detective in his
police cruiser because friends and family were arriving at
her home. The detective reminded Hopkins that she had been
provided Miranda warnings during her earlier
recorded interview with the detective sergeant, informed her
that those rights were still in effect, and offered to go
over the rights with her. Hopkins declined the offer to
review her Miranda rights.
Hopkins told the detective that she had two shots of Fireball
whiskey around 5:00 p.m., while her cousin was visiting, to
"clear her sinuses." She explained that after
dinner she got the older boys into bed around 8:00 p.m. and
then put the baby to sleep in his boppy on her bed around
9:00 p.m. She said that she took two hits from a marijuana
joint after the older boys had gone to sleep and before she
got the baby ready for bed because it "slows [her] brain
down long enough that [she] can fall asleep." Hopkins
stated that she lay down and fell asleep around 9:00 p.m. and
woke up about an hour later because her gall bladder was
bothering her. At that time, she checked on the baby and saw
that he was fine and still sleeping.
Hopkins said that she put a "healthy bruise-free one
hundred percent healthy, happy baby to bed ...." She did
not know what happened to the baby, and she agreed with the
detective that the injuries were inflicted by someone but
denied that she was responsible. She stated that she was
"really praying" that her oldest son would talk to
the detective and provide him with the answers he was looking
for because one of her older boys was likely responsible, but
she acknowledged that she had never seen either of them be
violent with the baby.
The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy found
abrasions and bruises all over the baby's body; skull
fractures on both sides of his head and on the back of his
head; multiple rib fractures; upper right arm fractures;
swelling and bleeding inside the scalp; retinal and optic
nerve sheath hemorrhage; and bleeding into the cervical
spinal cord. The medical examiner opined that these injuries
were indicative of "whiplash" forces applied to the
body and that the rib fractures were likely a result of a
"squeezing of the chest" type of force. The medical
examiner determined that the baby's cause of death was
blunt force trauma with craniocerebral
On January 17, 2017, Hopkins was charged by complaint with
one count of knowing or depraved indifference murder (Class
A), 17-A M.R.S. § 2Ol(1)(A)-(B) (2017). Thereafter,
Hopkins was indicted for manslaughter (Class A), 17-A M.R.S.
§ 2O3(1)(A). After the grand jury indictment, the State
dismissed the original murder charge in the complaint.
On April 24, 2017, Hopkins filed a motion to suppress
statements she made to law enforcement officers during the
course of several interviews. A hearing on the motion was
held on August 31, 2017. At the hearing, Hopkins argued that
(1) her initial interview with the responding deputy was in
violation of her Miranda rights and was involuntary;
(2) her interview with the detective sergeant at her kitchen
table was undertaken without a valid waiver of her
Miranda rights and was involuntary; and that (3) her
second interview with the deputy, (4) her interview during
the videotaped walk-through, and (5) her interview with the
detective in his cruiser were each undertaken without a
reading of her Miranda ...