A 23-year-old Salem woman made her first appearance in Marion County Court Thursday morning on two counts of first degree murder in connection with the Tuesday morning death of her three-month-old child.
Christina Thomason of North Trenary Street indicated she planned to hire her own attorney. Judge Steadlin explained to Thomason she could gain her release by posting $100,000 cash on the $1-million bond set on the arrest warrant by Judge Ericka Sanders. A hearing on status regarding Thomason's efforts to obtain counsel was set for April 1st at ten am.
Marion County State's Attorney Matt Wilzbach told WJBD news earlier Thomason admitted to the circumstances that led up to the suffocation death of Aribella Thomason. Christina Thomason was brought in for questioning a second time by the Southern Illinois Child Death Review Task Force after a child forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy on Tuesday said her initial story did not match the evidence.
"During the course of that interview, she ultimately acknowledged the baby was crying, she could not get the baby to stop crying, so she put the baby in the bassinet, covered her up with several blankets, including covering up her face, mouth and nose, and proceeded basically to go away for an hour," said Wilzbach. "Obviously when she came back the baby was dead which prompted her to call 9-1-1."
Wilzbach says during that hour after Thomason had allegedly placed the blankets over the baby, she spent 10 to 15 minutes on the stool in the bathroom listening on a baby monitor until the baby stopped crying. She then told police she took about a 35 minute shower. Thomason then got her two-year-old daughter up. At that point, she told police she found the baby not breathing and called 9-1-1. Wilzbach says Thomason acted calmly during the 9-1-1 call. He reports the mother was the only adult present in the home at the time of the incident. Wilzbach says Thomason basically listened to her baby die.
During the questioning, Thomason reportedly brought up seeing CSI type shows where it took about an hour for a baby to suffocate.
Thomason's first version of the story to police was she rolled up a blanket and placed it under her daughter's head in the bassinet to prop her up. She said after returning from a 35 minute shower, she found her daughter had turned her head into the blanket and was not breathing.
After the child forensic pathologist said the story wasn't plausible, task force members tried to recreate without success what happened based on Thomason's original statement.
Wilzbach reports one of the first-degree murder counts claims Thomason intentionally killed her daughter. The second count claims Thomason's actions created a strong probability of death to the child.
Wilzbach confirms the State's Attorney's office has also captured comments Thomason was making about the baby's death from Facebook that could possibly be entered into evidence as well. He noted some of the comments before her second interview with police didn't match what she told police. Investigators also found it unusual how quickly Thomason had set up a gofundme.com site to try and raise money for her daughter's funeral.
A shelter hearing was also held Thursday morning on guardianship of Thomason's two-year-old daughter. The hearing was delayed until April first after Thomason was warned if she took the stand in the guardianship hearing, whatever she said could be used against her in the criminal case. In the interim, the two year old will remain in protective custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Wilzbach says Thomason has a third child who is being cared for by a relative. Since there is no formal paperwork on the guardianship of the child, a petition to determine wardship has been filed with the court.