Kloe Hawksley, 2, of Bucksport, was killed in October 2017. Credit: Maine Department of Public Safety

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A Bucksport woman accused of killing a 2-year-old girl in October 2017 has reached an agreement with state prosecutors and is expected to plead guilty this week to a charge of manslaughter.

Savannah Smith, 22, is accused of killing Kloe Hawksley, who prosecutors say died at her Bucksport home from a blow to her abdomen that severed her stomach from her small intestine. Smith was dating Kloe Hawksley’s father at the time.

Smith is expected to appear in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth at 10 a.m. Thursday to enter the guilty plea. She is expected to be sentenced following her change of plea.

Marc Malon, spokesman for the state Attorney General’ office, confirmed on Tuesday that a plea deal has been reached but said additional details would not be released until Smith appears in court.

Smith’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, said Tuesday that the plea deal includes an agreement between him and prosecutors to recommend a sentence of 20 years in prison with all but 10 years suspended and four years of probation. It will be up to the judge, Justice Robert Murray, to either accept or reject the joint recommended sentence.

Smith does not admit to all the allegations against her, Silverstein said, but realizes the state would have a good chance of getting a manslaughter conviction if the case went to trial. He said that if Smith did not have the option of pleading guilty to manslaughter and faced only a more serious murder charge, there would be no change of plea and she would try her luck with a jury.

“She is willing to accept a compromise to this,” Silverstein said, adding his client has been held behind bars since her April 4, 2019, arrest. Smith will get credit for time served, he said.

Savannah Smith leaves Hancock County Criminal Court in 2019 after appearing at a bail hearing. Smith is charged in the murder of 2-year-old Kloe Hawksley of Bucksport in October 2017.  Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

He said that he expects his client to address the court on Thursday, but that he does not know to what extent she might talk about what happened the day Kloe died.

The defense attorney said that the manslaughter conviction will follow his client around for the rest of her life.

“It’s not going to be a picnic in the park, but it won’t be decades of incarceration,” Silverstein said.

According to an affidavit filed in court, Kloe had been at her Central Street home with Smith on Oct. 17, 2017, while her father was at work in Belfast. Smith later told police that during the day Kloe fell off a bed and was knocked over by a dog, but neither incident seemed to cause the girl any significant injury.

Both Kloe and her brother, who was 4 at the time, were asleep by the time their father got home between 6:30 and 7 p.m., according to the document. Kloe was pronounced dead the next morning, after Smith and Kloe’s father awoke around 7 a.m., found her unresponsive and then called 911.

An autopsy report prepared by Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s chief medical examiner, showed that Kloe had suffered blunt force trauma to her torso, according to the affidavit. The girl had multiple contusions, internal organ lacerations, a hyper-extended spine, and her thymus — a gland in the top part of the chest — and heart showed signs of chronic stress, according to the report.

The autopsy indicated that “Kloe was living in a situation that exposed her to multiple other less-than-lethal traumas,” Maine State Police Detective Thomas Pickering wrote in the document.

According to Flomenbaum’s report, the affidavit said, the girl likely died four to 10 hours after the fatal injury was inflicted and hours before anyone tried to revive her the morning of Oct. 18, 2017.

Bill Trotter

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....