Father faces fatal child abuse charge
CENTENNIAL, Colo. ” A man who said his 6-year-old daughter disappeared after an argument over a cookie has been indicted on charges of child abuse resulting in death, prosecutors said Thursday.
The 60-count indictment came 18 months after Aaron Thompson reported his daughter Aarone missing. Not all the counts deal with his daughter’s apparent death. Aarone’s body has not been found.
Thompson has denied any involvement in her disappearance. Police announced his arrest Wednesday. He was being held on $500,000 bail.
Thompson, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands shackled to a chain around his waist, showed little emotion during a hearing in Arapahoe County District Court Thursday.
The most serious charge against him, child abuse resulting in death, carries a penalty of up to 48 years in prison.
Thompson told police on Nov. 14, 2005, that Aarone became upset and left the family’s home in the Denver suburb of Aurora when he refused to let her have a cookie. Three days after the initial report, police abruptly halted their search for the girl and said they believed she may have been dead for as long as 18 months.
The family’s most recent picture of Aarone was taken when she was 4 1/2 years old. She wasn’t enrolled in school and neighbors didn’t recall ever seeing her. Aarone’s biological mother, who lives in Michigan, told police she hadn’t seen her daughter since 2001 after a bitter split with Aaron Thompson.
Aurora community activist Alvertis Simmons said Thursday that Shely Lowe, Thompson’s girlfriend, had once told him Aarone had not been enrolled in school because her birth certificate was lost in the laundry. He said he told grand jurors that when he was called to testify.
Not long after Aarone was reported missing, investigators said Thompson and Lowe were “persons of interest” in the case. Lowe, who also denied wrongdoing, died in May 2006 of an apparent heart attack.
Other children who lived with Thompson and Lowe were taken into state custody. Thompson has been fighting in court to get them back but so far has been turned down.
Few details of the investigation or the charges have been released. A copy of the grand jury indictment made public Thursday had many parts blanked out.
District Attorney Carol Chambers said that was done partly to protect Thompson’s other children and partly to avoid heavy news coverage that could force the case to be moved if it goes to trial.
Asked why the grand jury did not return a murder charge, Chambers said, “We charge what the evidence supports.”
Aaron Thompson’s attorney, David Lane, removed himself from the case Thursday so Thompson could get a public defender and become eligible for state help to pay for investigations and other defense services.
Lane said he believes limiting such state help to public defenders is unconstitutional and could be grounds for an appeal.
Lane accused investigators of repeatedly questioning Thompson after his arrest without Lane present, even though police knew he was Thompson’s lawyer.
Lane said the Arapahoe County jail, where Thompson is being held, is a “snitch snakepit” where inmates know they can make up false confessions from other inmates in order to get deals in their own case.
“Mr. Thompson has absolutely no intention of breaking down and sobbing on the shoulder of some other inmate in that jail,” Lane told District Judge William Sylvester.
Chambers and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates declined to comment on Lane’s remarks.