Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — Kelsie Thomas’ attorney has filed an emergency motion asking for her release from custody due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thomas was acquitted of child endangerment earlier this month, but jurors failed to reach a verdict on whether she killed her daughter. Prosecutors have indicated they will re-try the case.

Allen Cook filed the motion Tuesday, calling the pandemic an “imminent threat” to Thomas and asking the court to set a hearing to decide whether Thomas should be released.

“The county jail has never confronted a global pandemic like this one. The facility is unequipped either to prevent transmission of COVID-19 among detainees or staff or to isolate and treat individuals who become infected,” Cook wrote.

The Wapello County Jail took steps earlier this month to limit interactions with people and to lower the risk of the virus getting into its inmate population. Visitation for inmates has been suspended with the exception of their attorneys.

Sheriff Don Phillips said at the time jail staff will work with Wapello County Public Health in the event of an inmate showing signs of infection with the virus. The jail is also screening all people brought in to the facility.

Cook filed a similar motion on behalf of Son Nguyen, who faces numerous charges of sexual abuse and lascivious acts with a child. Nguyen has been in custody since early 2019 and prosecutors have repeatedly argued in court that he is a flight risk.

Nguyen was arrested in Texas after returning to the United States from Vietnam, a trip family members had told authorities he would not be on.

In other area cases:

• Joseph Ward was sentenced to 25 years in prison on a charge of manufacturing methamphetamine and 15 years each on charges of manufacturing marijuana and child endangerment. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently and he must serve at least one-third of the time.

• The court dismissed charges of robbery, burglary and assault against Xavier Dennis, saying that a witness falsely claimed to have made a written statement while with the county attorney, and “made statements … that appear to be to be based more on race than an actual identification.”

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter

@mwmilner

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter

@mwmilner

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Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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