Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — Kelsie Thomas will face a second trial on a charge of first-degree murder, though the date has not been set.

The move was widely expected, but the court filings made it official.

Thomas was acquitted of child endangerment by a jury last week, but the panel failed to reach a verdict on the more serious charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Thomas killed her daughter, Cloe Chandler. Thomas and her attorneys have said the death was a tragic accident, not a killing.

Judge Lucy Gamon wrote in her order that the state “seeks to retry Count I. The defendant does not waive the right to trial within 90 days.” That means the trial will move ahead relatively soon.

The challenge for all sides may be managing the speedy trial requirement, which gives Thomas the right to be tried within 90 days, and the delays being imposed by measures to stem the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. The Iowa Supreme Court’s order prohibiting the start of new jury trials until at least April 20 was issued this past weekend.

Health experts have said the disruptions caused by the virus outbreak will last several months, raising the question of whether an extension of the order may be needed.

A check of high-profile area cases showed at least four trials on charges ranging from bank robberies to attempted murders have already been rescheduled, with the earliest date for resumption set in mid-May.

In other area cases:

• Prosecutors are asking the court to deny the attempt by Dalton Cook’s attorney to have a charge against him dismissed. Cook is accused of having a weapon in the Wapello County Jail, and his attorney said he was not tried within the required 90-day window.

The county attorney’s office asked the court to reject the request, saying Cook’s defense had told the office it would “file the arraignment and a waiver of speedy trial,” but did not follow through.

• Jaime Ortiz was granted a court-appointed attorney. Ortiz faces charges of first-degree burglary, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, going armed with intent and being a felon in possession of a firearm.


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