February 21, 2013

Lawyer for girl charged with manslaughter seeking closed competency hearing

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN — The lawyer for an 11-year-old girl who is charged with manslaughter in the death of an infant last summer has filed a motion in District Court to have a competency hearing scheduled for next week closed to the public and news media.

The attorney, John Martin, of Skowhegan, said his intention is to protect the privacy of the girl, Kelli Murphy, of Fairfield.

“It’s a matter of my client’s right to privacy; there’s some personal information in there that I don’t think the public should be wise to,” Martin said Thursday. “Most significantly, it’s about her age, but I think anybody should be afforded that privacy right.”

Murphy is charged as a juvenile with manslaughter in the July death of 3-month-old Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway, of Clinton. The infant died during an overnight stay in the home of Murphy’s mother, Amanda Huard, in Fairfield.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said he opposes closing the hearing and has filed a reply to Martin’s motion.

He said all proceedings in the case should be open to the public.

“In order for the public to place any level of trust in the criminal justice system, it has to be open and transparent; and I believe this should be an open and transparent process,” Benson said.

The competency hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Skowhegan District Court. The findings are meant to determine whether Murphy has an understanding of the way the justice system works and whether she is able to assist her lawyer in presenting a defense.

Witnesses said the infant was alone with Murphy, then 10, in her room in the hours before police responded to a 911 call placed by Huard. State officials have not said what caused the infant’s death.

Murphy entered a “no answer” plea to the charge in Skowhegan District Court in October.

Martin would not say Thursday whether Murphy remains in the custody of the Department Health and Human Services or where she is living.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway

Contributed photo

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