Aaron Thompson Loses Appeal In Child Abuse Case
Aaron Thompson, who was accused of child abuse which resulted in his daughter’s death in 2009 lost an appeal for freedom. The Colorado Court of Appeals rejected his argument that he was unconstitutionally prevented from utilizing an attorney of his choice. Thompson was convicted of 31 of the 55 counts filed against him.
Thompson had been living with his girlfriend, Shely Lowe, along with her five children and two kids of his own, including Aaroné, the child who passed, and Lowe’s half-brother. The night of the incident, Thompson called authorities claiming that Aaroné had run away from home after they had gotten into an argument over a cookie. A search was immediately conducted, and law enforcement was unable to locate the child. However, instead, investigators found evidence suggesting that Aaron had much to hide.
Eric Williams Sr., Lowe’s former boyfriend who was the father to two of her kids, alleged that Lowe had told him the year prior that Aaroné had actually “died one evening in the bathtub” and she and Thompson buried that child “far away”. Another one of Lowe’s friends, Tabitha Graves, told investigators a similar story. Her account varied just slightly to indicate Aaroné had been found dead in her bed. Thompson and Lowe then “concocted a plan” to cover up the girl’s death. In interviewing the other children in the home, initally they all said that the girl had indeed run away, but the information given by each of them concerning her favorite food, color and other similar probing questions, led investigators to believe that the children had been coached into responding as they had.
Officers began placing the children with foster families and after they were removed from the home, they began divulging the truth. They were indeed instructed to lie to authorities. They also indicated they had been the victims of child abuse and that Aaroné had not been in the house with them for a long time.
A grand jury indicted Thompson on sixty accounts, including child abuse resulting in death, false reporting, conspiracy, assault, and abuse of a corpse, to name a few. Five of the sixty counts were dropped before trial. Lowe died during the investigation.
Prosecutor Bob Chappell was pleased when jurors found Thompson guilty of the most serious of the bunch, and he was ultimately sentenced to 114 years in prison. Thompson appealed because he was represented by lawyer David Lane, a constitutional attorney. Lane had said he would handle the manner pro bono from his client’s perspective, but he wanted the state to pay for investigators and experts to supplement his efforts. When Colorado refused Lane withdrew. Thompson was left to choose from public defenders.
The appeal rested on whether Thompson’s conviction was constitutional given these circumstances, and a three-judge panel agreed it was. Judge Steve Bernard admitted “we find ourselves at an unusual divide. Judge [John] Webb ‘take[s] no position’ on the analysis that the reader is about to encounter, but he concurs with the decision to affirm defendant’s convictions. Judge [Stephanie Erin] Dunn dissents from this part of the opinion.” Bernard found that the State of Colorado was under no obligation to provide resources to assist Lane, which Webb accepted. But in a dissent, Dunn stated “in my view, because the trial court erred in failing to recognize its authority to consider and authorize the requested support services, Mr. Thompson effectively was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to the counsel of his choice.” Dunn’s conclusion opened the door to another possibility of an appeal. There’s still no closure on the disappearance of Aaroné.