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Death penalty possible for mother suspected of killing newborn twins

Rachael Lynn Thomas accused of beating babies to death

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WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. – Prosecutors will soon begin the process of reviewing the case of a West Melbourne mother charged with killing her newborn twins to determine if the state will seek the death penalty, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Detectives say 30-year-old Rachael Lynn Thomas gave birth April 15 to healthy twins in the bathroom of her Laurel Oak Street duplex and then beat the unnamed babies, carried to 39 weeks, to death.

“When we receive the information, we will review the case,” said Todd Brown, spokesman for the state attorney’s office. Prosecutors will first go over the investigators’ information, witness statements and tests from the medical examiner’s office.

Police charged Thomas — initially booked on child neglect charges — with two counts each of first-degree murder and child abuse after the medical examiner's office determined that the infants had been murdered. 

Both newborns were found with blunt-force trauma to the head and the baby girl was found with a "foreign object" stuffed in her mouth, police said. 

A grand jury could then be convened over the next few weeks to review evidence in the case before recommending whether formal state charges should be filed. With formal charges, the state will have 45 days from the arraignment to decide whether to pursue the death penalty.

If the grand jury returns with a first-degree murder indictment, coupled with the aggravated child abuse charges, "then there will be a review to make the determination if the case qualifies for the death penalty," Brown said. 

West Melbourne police said Thomas — who had two other children, including a toddler — was alone when she gave birth. She told detectives that she didn’t know she was pregnant and had "panicked."

Detectives discovered later that she placed one of the dead infants in a bag and stuffed the infant — identified as "Baby Jane" — in an outside waste bin beneath a bag of cat litter.

Thomas did call 911 after giving birth, but only initially reported one of the twins. 

"I had a baby, and then I passed out. Now the baby's not responding and I don't know what to do," Thomas told 911 dispatchers when she called that Sunday around noon. "It's not doing anything. It's cold and it's blue." 

Thomas also faces tampering with evidence charges because police said she did not tell them about the infant girl. 

Thomas' two other children, an 8-year-old and a 1-year-old, were removed from her custody and placed with other family members by the Department of Children and Families.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty in a similar case against a 33-year-old Jessica McCarty, a Palm Bay mother who admitted to killing her three children on March 19, 2015, including a five-month-old infant.

The woman — who dealt with drug and mental health issues — instead pled guilty in December 2015 and in exchange for the plea, was sentenced to life in prison without parole.