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Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Celina man charged with murdering infant

By Margie Wuebker
Jason Thomas, a 25-year-old Celina man charged in connection with the death of his 101/2-month-old stepson, walked into Mercer County Common Pleas Court on Monday afternoon staring straight ahead, without so much as a glance toward his wife or relatives.
Thomas made his initial court appearance after being indicted Friday by a Mercer County grand jury on nine counts, including two counts of murder as a result of felonious assault and child endangerment. Other charges include three counts of involuntary manslaughter, two child endangering offenses and one count each felonious assault and reckless homicide. The charges range from first- to third-degree felonies.
Thomas originally was charged with felonious assault and reckless homicide in connection with the Jan. 16 death of Kole Mathew Atkins. The child suffered extensive injuries to the head, body and extremities including broken bones and blunt force trauma to the head, according to Celina Police reports.
As he did in an earlier Celina Municipal Court appearance, Thomas on Monday stared at the defense table gradually leaning closer to the polished surface until his face was no more than a foot away. He looked up only to respond to questions from Judge Jeffrey Ingraham.
He remains incarcerated on a $1 million bond pending a March 4 arraignment hearing.
Six uniformed or plainclothes officers watched from various points around the courtroom. Although there have been no threats directed toward the defendant, Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser said more security was necessary due to the highly emotional nature of the case.
Spectators seated in the gallery behind Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox - some of them clutching photographs of the little boy sporting a big grin - watched as the defendant was escorted from the room. No one was permitted to leave until Thomas left the building.
Police received a 911 call from the Thomas home on Garman Avenue the night of Jan. 14 regarding a non-breathing child. Medics initiated CPR and continued the procedure en route to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater. The infant was later transferred to Children's Medical Center in Dayton, where a decision was made late the next day to remove life support. He reportedly died several hours later.
Thomas, the only adult in the house at the time, initially told authorities the child fell from a playpen and struck his head on steel-toed boots.
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