Friday, June 5th, 2009
Celina man found guilty in murder of infant stepson
Jason Thomas could get sentence of life in prison
By Margie Wuebker
A 26-year-old Celina man faces life in prison after being found guilty of murder and felonious assault Wednesday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
The charges stem from the death of his 101/2-month-old stepson earlier this year.
Jason C. Thomas, 119 Garman Ave., entered a plea of no contest as part of a negotiated agreement. Judge Jeffrey Ingraham set sentencing for 2:30 p.m. July 22.
The murder charge, an unclassified felony, carries a sentence of 15 years to life while the assault charge, a second-degree felony, could add up to an additional eight years. Both carry the possibility of up to $30,000 in fines.
In keeping with the plea arrangement, worked out over the course of several months, the state dropped seven additional counts ranging from first- down to third-degree felonies but reserved the right to argue at the time of sentencing. A grand jury returned the nine-count indictment on Jan. 30.
Celina Police and emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call from the Thomas home at 7:17 p.m. Jan. 14 for Kole M. Atkins, who was not breathing.
Medics initiated CPR at the scene 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. However, medical personnel determined his extensive injuries - multiple bruises, broken bones and blunt force trauma to the head - were the likely cause of shaken baby impact syndrome.
The infant's parents and grandparents were among a handful of spectators present for the change of plea hearing. They wore T-shirts bearing the infant's picture and the wording "Our Sweet Angel."
They wiped tears intermittently during the proceeding, especially when Fox read a prepared document outlining what occurred at the Thomas home that night.