Indiana County woman withdraws plea in baby's drowning death

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An Indiana County woman who in January pleaded guilty to drowning her infant son drown in a bathtub last year withdrew her pleas today and is scheduled for trial in late June.

Tonya Thomas, 26, of White was scheduled to be sentenced today before Common Pleas Judge Thomas M. Bianco, but instead withdrew her endangering the welfare of children and involuntary manslaughter pleas.

It was not immediately clear if she will now stand trial on homicide, aggravated assault and other crimes that were held for court at her preliminary hearing. Those were withdrawn after her plea.

Indiana County district attorney Jack Heneks was not available.

Ms. Thomas left 13-month-old Ryden and his 2- and 3-year-old siblings alone in the bathtub Feb. 2, 2013, while she went downstairs to do laundry, text on her phone, and get snacks and medicine, state police in Indiana said at the time of her arrest.

When she returned, Ryden was face down in the water and she began CPR.

After her plea hearing in January, Mr. Heneks said in a statement that prosecutors "never thought that Ms. Thomas intentionally harmed her son but she was grossly negligent in leaving the children alone in the bathtub which ultimately caused the drowning death of Ryden Thomas."

Her husband, Wesley Thomas, 25, pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges last fall related to the incident.


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