A Winchester mother is facing five years in prison for killing her 16-day-old son nearly two and a half years ago.
Amanda Tolson, 24, of 348 Hill St., pleaded guilty Thursday morning in Clark Circuit Court to a single count of reckless homicide. The plea followed a criminal mediation session in July.
Her co-defendant and the child’s father, 25-year-old Christopher Chandler of Georgetown, also pleaded guilty but to the reduced charge of hindering prosecution.
The pair were arrested in February 2010, nearly a year after their son Lucas Chandler died in the University of Kentucky Medical Center of multiple blunt force trauma injuries to his head, including a skull fracture. An autopsy showed there were no other injuries.
At the time, the couple said they noticed Lucas was not breathing properly and called for an ambulance on March 22, 2009, Winchester Police said. Three days later, Lucas Chandler died in the hospital.
Police spent more than a year investigating the couple, including searching their home for possible weapons that could have caused the injuries, but none were found.
While Chandler was released on bond shortly after his arrest, Tolson has been incarcerated in the Clark County Detention Center since her arrest.
In Clark Circuit Court Thursday morning, Tolson pleaded guilty following the settlement reached during mediation in July. She pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, rather than the original charge of murder, and was given the maximum sentence of five years. She will be sentenced on Oct. 6 by Clark Circuit Judge William Clouse.
Tolson admitted to being “reckless” and said that she “put (her) son in harm,” but offered no other statements.
Chandler was originally charged with murder as well, but following mediation, the charge was amended to second-degree hindering prosecution, which is a misdemeanor. Chandler said he lied to police during the investigation. Clouse immediately sentenced Chandler to the maximum of 360 days in jail following his plea.
The case is believed to be the first in Clark County to go through the mediation process. Attorneys have the option to resolve a criminal case through mediation with a senior status judge, who meets with all parties including the defendants, attorneys and victims. If successful, mediation can be a faster path to resolve a case.
For Chandler and Tolson, their trial had already been postponed twice due to evidence delays. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles Johnson said previously that he planned to call seven doctors to testify live at trial, which would take significant time to coordinate.
In June, prosecutors and defense attorneys requested mediation in the case and asked that Senior Status Judge Julia Hylton Adams preside over the July 18 session. Following mediation, the case returned to Clouse for entry of a plea and sentencing.
Contact Fred Petke at firstname.lastname@example.org