An Ottumwa woman, convicted of involuntary manslaughter last month by a judge, is now seeking clarification on the judge’s ruling.
Kelsie Thomas, 23, was found guilty for her role in the 2018 death of her five-year-old daughter Cloe Chandler by Judge Lucy Gamon in a November trial. The prosecution sought a first-degree murder conviction but in her ruling, Judge Gamon said she found no evidence of premeditation, along with malice aforethought (both requirements for first-degree murder), and convicted Thomas of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, a felony.
Thomas’s lawyers filed a motion for clarification on December 9th. According to court documents, the lawyers made the argument that Thomas did not meet all of the requisites for a felony conviction.
In Iowa, there are two different kinds of involuntary manslaughter. The first is classified as a Class D felony when a person kills another while committing a public offense or forcible felony (death of a victim during a robbery, for example). The second kind is an aggravated misdemeanor which could be filed when a person performs an act that has a high probability of causing serious injury or death without intending for death to occur.
A felony conviction of involuntary manslaughter carries with it a sentence of up to five years in prison. On the other hand, a conviction of the aggravated misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter has a sentence of up to two years in prison.
Thomas’ lawyers say because Judge Gamon did not specify an offense, Thomas did not meet the requirements to merit a felony sentence.
Wapello County District Attorney Reuben Neff disagrees with the defense’s assertion.
“The defendant’s motion asserts that this court had not indicated any public offense committed by the defendant. This is untrue.”
A hearing has been scheduled for January 4th.