HUDSON—In Columbia County Court, September 30, two days after entering a plea of not guilty to first degree manslaughter, Tara J. Tomlin, 21, of Livingston changed her plea to guilty in connection with the death of her newborn son.
While on duty as a clerk at the Bells Pond Xtra Mart convenience store, Ms. Tomlin gave birth to a living 7½ pound baby boy in the store restroom in the early morning hours of November 27, 2015. She then put the child in a garbage bag and deposited the bag in a dumpster behind the store. The child died of homicide by asphyxiation, according to a pathologist’s report.
She has been in the Columbia County Jail without bail since her arrest November 28, 2015 and was found competent to stand trial December 14, 2015.
Shortly after she was led shackled into courtroom Friday, correction officers removed her handcuffs when all parties agreed that she was not a security risk.
Ms. Tomlin sat clutching tissues, her hair hanging over her face and hunched next to her attorney, First Assistant Public Defender Michael C. Howard.
Judge Jonathan Nichols, as he had two days earlier, inquired of Ms. Tomlin whether she was able to read and write and whether any physical, mental or emotional conditions or drug or alcohol consumption prevented her from understanding the consequences of entering a guilty plea. She would be giving up her right to a trial with or without a jury and her ability to dispute evidence against her, the judge explained to her.
He told her the first degree manslaughter charge carries a sentence of 5 to 25 years in prison and 2½ to 5 years of post-release supervision along with fines and fees.
He said he was aware of “underlying circumstance leading to this plea,” and that she had no prior criminal record. He said he would make no sentencing promises and would take everything into consideration including all information contained in a pre-sentencing memo yet to be prepared. She would be giving up her right to remain silent and her right to appeal the guilty verdict, though not her right to appeal her sentence, the judge told her.
She indicated that she understood and still wanted to plead guilty.
District Attorney Paul Czajka recounted the facts of the case, the birth and death of the baby November 27, 2015, saying Ms. Tomlin had placed the child in the dumpster “and did so with the intent to kill that baby under circumstances evincing extreme emotional disturbance.”
Judge Nichols repeated the scenario asking if she wanted to plead guilty to the actions mentioned, thereby causing the death of her baby.
She sobbed silently into the tissues in her hand and uttered “Yes.”
Judge Nichols said he found that she had made the admissions “knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently” and convicted her of first degree manslaughter.
DA Czajka said he would make no sentencing recommendation, but rather leave it to the judge to pronounce a just sentence.
The DA also noted that since her arrest, Ms. Tomlin had been ready willing and able to engage with her attorney in discussions that led to her plea and that any delays in the case had nothing to do with “intransigence or hesitation on the part of the defendant” but rather were caused by factors “beyond her control.”
Judge Nichols set her sentencing for Wednesday, December 7 at 1 p.m.
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Police charge some for selling alcohol to minors
LIVINGSTON—On September 15, investigators and uniformed members of the State Police from the Livingston barracks conducted an Underage Drinking Initiative in towns throughout Columbia County.
The following establishments were visited enlisting a person under 21 years of age who attempted to purchase alcohol. State Police report the following businesses did not sell to the underage buyer and are to be commended for their compliance with the New York State Alcohol Beverage Control Act: Stewarts Shop #412, 2931 Route 9, Valatie; Stewarts Shop #168, 479 Route 20, New Lebanon; Thruway Beverage III, 501 Route 20, New Lebanon; US Petroleum/Gettymart, 1012 Route 82, Ancram and Xtra Mart, 601 Route 295, East Chatham.
Employees from the following establishments did sell alcohol to an individual under 21-years-old and were charged with promoting sale of alcohol to a minor. All were issued appearance tickets returnable in local court at later dates.
*Desiree J. Walthour, 20, of Valatie, Xtra Mart #10129, 3355 Route 9, Valatie
*George C. Freeman, 21, of Stuyvesant, Cobble Pond Farms Sunoco, 1002 Route 9, Valatie
*Barbara L. Wescott, 41, of Stephentown, New Lebanon EZ Mart, 492 Route 20, New Lebanon
*Barbara A. Sandstedt, 63, of Canaan, Canaan Corner Deli, 13366 Rt 22, Canaan. –Diane Valden