Josalyn Jones fully expected the father of her late 5-month-old son to be found guilty of causing the boy’s death.
So when a Will County jury late Tuesday night announced the acquittal of Bolingbrook’s Randel L. Thomas, who faced a first-degree murder charge, Jones said she looked around, ran from the courtroom and dropped to the ground in tears.
Prosecutors alleged Thomas suffocated their son, Christopher Thomas, by pushing his face into a mattress in September 2009 because the boy was disturbing his sleep.
“Something happened to my baby,” Jones, 20, said hours later. “It was just him and Randel in the room. And my baby’s not here now.”
But after six days of emotional testimony and more than 11 hours of deliberations, jurors found Thomas not guilty of murder and involuntary manslaughter
. Chris Rouskey, Thomas’ attorney, said he’s proud of the jury, and he said the case was a “tragedy for everybody.”
Thomas’ trial began with testimony from Jones, who shook as she described the day her son died. She said Christopher woke up early Sept. 25, 2009, and wouldn’t go back to sleep. Jones, who worked two jobs and needed to get ready for school, stayed up to care for the boy.
When she tried to wake Thomas to help her, though, she said he became angry and complained he was tired. She said he later followed her out the door of the home in the 100 block of Jeffrey Lane where they lived, yelling because he had to watch the child too often.
Prosecutors said Thomas took Christopher into his room, placed the boy beside him on the bed and, when the child cried, reached over and pushed his face into the mattress until he stopped crying.
“He did not want to care for his son,” Assistant State’s Attorney Nicole Moore said.
But when Thomas woke up and discovered the lifeless child next to him hours later, Rouskey said, he rushed the boy into his grandfather’s nearby bedroom, telling him to call 911. Rouskey said Thomas was coerced emotionally by police into telling officers he rested his hand on Christopher’s head while they were on the bed together. He told police in the videotaped interview played for jurors that must have been how his son died, and he said it was an accident.