Mother convicted of involuntary manslaughter for daughter’s death

Cloe Chandler, 5, of Ottumwa, Iowa. [Image credit: People]

"We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell," the Wapello County Attorney's Office said in a statement posted to their Facebook page on November 6 announcing the conviction of Kelsie Thomas for the 2018 death of her 5-year-old daughter Cloe Chandler.


"Kelsie Thomas must live with the hell of a world where she killed her own daughter."


Last March a jury trial ended with Thomas being acquitted on a charge of child endangerment, but unable to reach a verdict concerning a charge of first degree murder.  As a result, Thomas requested a bench trial which began in October of this year and lasted for two weeks.


On November 5 Judge Lucy Gamon found Thomas guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


In her 20-page ruling, Gamon outlined that there was no reason to believe that Thomas had acted out in premeditated malice which are requirements to convict on a charge of either first or second degree murder.  Instead, she found "a generally exhausted young parent who had trouble with insomnia at night and struggled with depression" that "acted out of exhaustion, frustration, and anger, not out of rational thought" but was nonetheless responsible for the death of her daughter.


Thomas had initially told investigators that her daughter had hanged herself accidentally on July 19, 2018 while making a swing in her closet out of a pair of pants.  Several hours into a second interview with investigators however, she admitted to her role in her daughter's death and even wrote a letter to family members apologizing.


The defense argued that the confession was coerced, but Gamon found that the account in the confession "perfectly fits with the credible medical evidence."


In her ruling, Gamon determined that the "defendant was blinded by her frustration and anger when she lassoed the pajama pants around C.C.'s neck, dropped her onto the bed, and pushed down on her chest area.  The defendant was much larger and stronger than five-year-old C.C., who had little ability to defend herself.  The defendant's actions were highly dangerous.  The defendant acted with willful disregard for the consequences, although she should have foreseen that harm would result from her actions.  However, the defendant did not intent to harm or kill C.C.; she simply wanted C.C. to lie down and take a nap so that she herself could rest."


Thomas is due to be sentenced on January 4.  She faces up to five years in prison.