Katrina Bridges was sentenced to 47 years, but her conviction was overturned.

AUBURN – In September 2001, a jury in Washington County convicted a woman of firing a .22-caliber rifle at her boyfriend and leaving him to die with a bullet lodged in his head.

The woman, Katrina Bridges of Jonesboro, was sentenced to 47 years in prison for the murder of Christopher Ingraham.

Nearly two years later, the state’s highest court threw out her conviction after ruling that Maine State Police made a mistake while interviewing her before her arrest.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that statements Bridges made to police before her arrest should not have been used at her September 2001 trial because police didn’t read her a Miranda warning before interrogating her.

As a result, the 22-year-old was granted a new trial. Her fate now lies with 12 people from Androscoggin County.

Her second trial began Monday in Androscoggin County Superior Court. It is being held there to accommodate Justice Ellen Gorman, who presided at the first trial and was assigned to be in Auburn this month.

A petite woman with a girlish face, Bridges kept her hands tucked in the sleeves of her dark green suit as she followed the jail guard to her chair. She never looked up at Ingraham’s friends and relatives, who were gathered in the back of the courtroom.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson began his opening statement by asking the jury to imagine Ingraham sleeping in his bed in the middle of the night on Jan. 3, 2001, as Bridges entered the room with a rifle raised to her shoulder.

Benson told the jurors – a panel of 10 women and four men – that Bridges pointed the rifle at the back of Ingraham’s head and fired.

“Traveling 1,200 feet per second, the bullet slammed into his head, blasted through his skull and ripped a path through his brain before getting lodged into his frontal lobe,” Benson said.

Dying from gunshot wound

Bridges left the house with the murder weapon and the couple’s 4-month-old son, then drove 20 miles before tossing the rifle from the car, Benson said.

According to court documents, Bridges showed up at the Machias Police Station about 12 hours later. When police got to the couple’s home in Jonesboro, Ingraham was alive but unconscious.

He died at Eastern Maine Medical Center 13 hours later from a single gunshot wound to the head.

The rifle, which was discovered to have been stolen days earlier from a home in Columbia Falls along with a 12-gauge shotgun, was eventually found by two men driving along Route 182 in Hancock County.

Bridges’ fingerprints were found on the stolen rifle, Benson said, and the 12-gauge shotgun taken during the same heist was found at her house.

Benson told the jury that in the weeks leading up to the murder, Ingraham was contemplating leaving Bridges and returning to his hometown in upstate New York with their son. He also was starting to question whether he was the child’s biological father.

“We will never know all the facts of Jan. 2, 2001, but we know that lurking beneath the placid surface of their relationship was an undercurrent of tension, hostility and resentment,” Benson said. “And that tension, hostility and resentment led to the execution.”

A late Miranda warning

Bridges’ lawyer, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, did not offer any alternative theory in his opening statement.

He simply reminded the jurors to think about the context of the witnesses’ statements, and he asked them not jump to conclusions.

“Just because the state says something is so, it doesn’t mean it is,” Toothaker said.

The jurors assigned to the trial do not know that Bridges has been in prison for nearly two years. They do not know that another jury found her guilty, and they will not hear many of the statements that she made to police on Jan. 3, 2001.

Detectives interviewed Bridges three times that day, in a bedroom at the Machias Fire Station, which is attached to the Machias Police Station. The third interview, which was conducted by three detectives, was taped and played for the jury at the first trial.

During this interview, Bridges told police she and her boyfriend might have had a suicide pact. She also told them that she put the gun to Ingraham’s head and pulled the trigger, thinking the safety was on.

According to the ruling by Maine’s highest court, these statement are inadmissible because detectives did not read Bridges her Miranda rights until they placed her under arrest more than six hours later.

“Katrina was told she was free to leave before the interrogation began, but the detectives did not read the Miranda warnings to her,” stated Justice Robert Clifford.

According to the court’s ruling, the detectives denied Bridges’ requests to see her uncle, and they wouldn’t let her mother in her room. In addition, the judge wrote, detectives repeatedly accused Bridges of lying, and they inappropriately told her to think of her son and tell the truth.

“Viewing the totality of the circumstance, we conclude that a reasonable person in Katrina’s circumstance would have felt that she was not free to terminate the interrogation and leave the fire station,” Clifford wrote.

Bridges’ second trial is expected to last all week.

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