SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and attempted murder charges in the drowning of her 12-year-old son and attempting drowning of her 7-year-old boy.
A judge denied bail for Sherri Telnas, who was prosecuted a decade ago in Montana for trying to drown the eldest son when he was 10 months old.
Telnas, 45, also faces charges of battery on a peace officer and gassing, which involves throwing feces or bodily fluids at someone, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office said.
If convicted on all charges, Telnas faces a maximum sentence of either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Her attorney, public defender Pia Stanley, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Deputies arrested Telnas on Saturday after they found the boys unresponsive in the irrigation canal of a corn field near their home in the community of Strathmore about 270 miles (435 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Her youngest son remains at a hospital in critical condition.
Deputies who responded to a 911 call found a neighbor who made the call and the boys’ grandmother trying to revive the kids, KFSN-TV reported.
Telnas was sentenced in 2009 to the custody of Montana health officials for two 10-year sentences running consecutively for trying to drown her baby.
She got custody of her sons in late 2010 as part of her divorce, court records said.
The judge found that she was doing well in her treatment with her psychiatrist, was holding down a job and her relationship with her son Jackson “appears to be very loving.”
The psychiatrist “had no concern about her ability to parent and testified that he sees no risk factors to indicate that she may de-compensate in her emotional wellness,” District Judge Ed McLean wrote.
She transferred her supervision to California in 2012, according to court documents.
Her second son was born that year after she reunited with her ex-husband, said Ellie Brown, who is engaged to the boys’ uncle.
McLean released her from probation in 2014 after her Montana parole officer Gloria Soja wrote that a probation officer in California had reported Telnas had completed drug abuse programs, had no violations and continued to attend all her appointments.
Telnas’ discharge from supervision “is in the best interests of the offender and society and will not present unreasonable risk of danger to the victim(s) of this offense,” Soja wrote.
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