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A woman who pleaded guilty in connection with the drowning death of her 13-month-old son has changed her plea and is now requesting a jury trial.

At the sentencing hearing this morning, attorneys for Tonya Thomas requested that her original plea of guilty to charges of misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter and felony reckless endangerment, and will instead have a jury trial.  Her attorney, Bradley Ophaug, said that Thomas gave a considerable amount of thought before making this decision, and he said that he felt that she has suffered enough with the loss of her child.

According to police, Thomas had left her 13-month-old son in the bathtub with her two siblings, aged 2 and 3, on February 2nd of last year while she did chores and texted her mother.  Their father, Wesley, was playing video games in the room next door to the bathroom.  She was accused of walking by the bathroom, and glancing in, seeing only two of the three children, but not investigating further.  When she finally went in, she found Ryden face-down in the water.  He was later pronounced dead at Indiana Regional Medical Center.

District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said that he was disappointed, as he felt the agreement was a fair agreement, but they will be ready to try her, and he will seek murder in the third degree.  He also stated that because they are now going to trial, the plea bargain is now off the table for good.

Judge Thomas Bianco scheduled jury selection for June 23rd at 8:30, with the trial to start that same day.

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Kathleen Smathers

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