Monday, July 27, 2009

James Thomas Arrested for the Death of his 4-month-old Son

Update: The man arrested in connection with the death of his four-month-old son is now formally charged.

James Thomas made his first appearance Friday afternoon in Sedgwick County Court. A judge charged him with First Degree Felony Murder. That means that the death happened during the commission of a felony. The felony the DA accuses him of committing is child abuse.

His preliminary hearing is set for August Sixth.

Wichita police identify the four-month-old boy who died at Wesley Medical Center Tuesday evening as Zereon L. Thomas. The boy's father is now in custody, booked on charges of child abuse and felony murder.

Police tell Eyewitness News the father dropped the baby, then intentionally waited to bring him to the hospital. When the boy arrived at the hospital, he had several bruises and contusions.

"There's injuries to the head and to the torso of the child that are different ages," said Wichita Police Lieutenant Ken Landwehr. "We do not know at this time if there are any broken bones."

The boy was staying with his 31-year-old father in an apartment building in the 1000 block of N. Madison. Officers have been at that scene collecting evidence. Police say the father has five other children, many of them in other states. The father has never been charged with child abuse, but Lt. Landwehr says there are indications that injuries were inflicted upon children in his care.

The man's 12-year-old son was at the home at the time of the incident. That boy is now in the custody of family members.

"Any child injury, of course, is very difficult for everyone because they are our most precious commodity," Lt. Landwehr said, "Our children are what we do everything for as parents, and of course, as law enforcement officers."

An autopsy will be performed determine the exact cause of death.

The boy's mother was in police custody on unrelated charges when the boy died.

This is the 19th homicide for Wichita in 2009, the first involving a child.

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