PORTLAND (AP) – The Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday threw out the murder conviction of a Jonesboro woman for the execution-style shooting of her live-in boyfriend more than two years ago.

The court said statements obtained by police while questioning Katrina Bridges should not have been used as evidence at her trial because she was not informed of her Miranda rights.

Bridges, 22, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for killing Christopher Ingraham Jr., whose body was found Jan. 3, 2001, in the couple’s bedroom.

Police went to the couple’s home after Bridges reported a robbery and shooting. At first, she said two men from Canada shot Ingraham before abducting her and their 4-month-old son Logan, driving them around the area and eventually pushing them from the vehicle in Whitneyville.

A search for the robbers proved fruitless and Bridges was arrested that night following further questioning in a bedroom at the Machias fire station.

The key issue before the law court was whether Bridges was in police custody during the interrogation and thus should have been advised of her Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and to have legal counsel.

“She contends that being in a small bedroom with closed blinds and doors during questioning, for several hours, despite being told that she could leave, deprived her freedom of movement to the degree associated with formal arrest. We agree,” the court concluded.

The justices said the location in which the questioning took place was “the functional equivalent of a police interrogation room.” Although the room was in the fire station, that building was attached to the police station, the opinion noted.

Detectives told Bridges she was free to leave, the court said, but they also made false or misleading statements about purported evidence and took advantage of her feelings toward her young child by encouraging her to “remember Logan” and tell the truth.

Even though the demeanor of the detectives was not aggressive, their persistent line of interrogation, marked by leading questions and challenges of Bridges’ denials of involvement, suggests that she could not help but believe that she was in custody, the court said.

The failure to suppress the statements made by Bridges during the interview in question was not harmless error, the court said, noting that the prosecution played the entire interview tape at the trial.

During the eight-day trial, police testified that Bridges offered several versions of how Ingraham was shot. In one version, she said she helped her boyfriend commit suicide but then was unable to follow through on the plan to kill herself.

According to testimony from Ingraham’s co-workers, Ingraham was concerned about the relationship and was beginning to question whether Logan was his son.

Permanent custody of the child was awarded to Ingraham’s parents.

The attorney general’s office indicated that Bridges, who was serving her sentence at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, would be retried.

“We’re reviewing the court’s decision and considering our options, and certainly one of those options – a likely option – is retrial,” said Chuck Dow, a spokesman for the attorney general.

Calais attorney David Mitchell said he anticipates that his client will be retried, perhaps as early as October. He said it is unlikely that Bridges will be released in the interim because she had been held without bail while awaiting trial.

AP-ES-08-06-03 1432EDT



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