PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A mother whose toddler drowned in a bathtub last year was sentenced Monday morning.
Tonya Thomas was found not guilty of third-degree murder, but guilty of involuntary manslaughter, assault and endangerment. She pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children and involuntary manslaughter in January.
Today. she was sentenced to one-to-two years in prison and five years of probation.
Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty was pushing for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, and now he is considering filing an appeal.
“Unfortunately, the appellate courts have attacked the minimum sentencing structure in the Commonwealth. So, right now, that’s one of the reasons the judge felt his hands were tied and couldn’t impose that,” Dougherty said.
Judge Martin said Thomas’ pre-sentence psychiatric report showed that Thomas had lack of intent to cause any harm. He also stated that she seemed genuine and sincere and there was nothing gained by putting her in prison long-term.
“But, she never said she was responsible, it was an accident. It’s her side of this. And our position from day one is that we don’t believe she intentionally tried to harm her child. However, the steps and actions she took leaving that child in a bathtub is just inexcusable,” Dougherty said.
During sentencing, Thomas told the judge she never wanted any of this to happen. She said losing a child is the hardest thing anyone has to live through and she doesn’t wish this on anybody.
She went on to say this is a mistake she will have to live with for the rest of her life.
KDKA-TV’s Amy Wadas spoke to Thomas’ mother, Cathy Smith, as she exited the courthouse.
Smith said this has been hard on the whole family and the children are in foster care. However, she’s trying to gain access to them.
Thomas’ attorney plans to appeal the sentence.
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