Defense Challenges Medical Examiner in Thomas Murder Case


Defense attorneys for an Ottumwa woman accused of murdering her daughter are asking the court to keep the state medical examiner from testifying in the upcoming trial.

Kelsie Thomas faces a charge of first-degree murder in the July 2018 death of five-year-old Chloe Marie Chandler. Thomas is accused of choking her daughter to death with a pair of pajama pants. Last week, defense attorney Allen Cook filed a motion asking the court to prevent Dr. Michele Catellier from testifying about the cause of Chandler’s death.

Catellier performed the autopsy in the case, and Cook’s filing says Catellier doesn’t believe Chandler’s death was accidental. Cook argues that the doctor’s opinion is tainted because she reviewed interviews with Thomas and saw a video tour of the crime scene. Judge Lucy Gamon scheduled a hearing on the motion for February 21st.

Ottumwa police were called to Thomas’ home on North James Street on July 19th of 2018, where they found Chandler unresponsive. She was later pronounced dead at Ottumwa Regional Medical Center. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Thomas was arrested a week later after she admitted to killing her daughter.

Thomas has pleaded not guilty to the charges. She faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

As a reminder, a criminal charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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