A 3-year-old child is dead and her mother's best friend behind bars after a tragic trip to the swimming pool. Dallas police arrested Kariasa Machell Thomas, 37, on August 3 for reckless injury to a child.
According to police, Kanyce Giddings, 3, drowned while Thomas browsed Facebook on her phone just a few feet away.
On June 22, Thomas agreed to bring a friend's children — ages 7, 6, 5 and 3 — to an apartment complex pool in the 8600 block of Old Hickory Trail in Dallas. When the group arrived around 7 pm, the pool had already closed.
Thomas, who was accompanied by her 16-year-old daughter and legally blind husband, decided to let the children swim anyway. Thomas was aware that the 3-year-old girl did not know how to swim. She instructed the child, who was not wearing a flotation device, to stay on the pool's steps.
Thomas told police that she reclined in a nearby chair, browsed Facebook, and played with her pet pit bull named Sugar while the children swam. When Thomas looked up 15 minutes later, the 3-year-old was nowhere in sight.
Around 9 pm, an off-duty Dallas police officer working apartment security told Thomas that the pool was closed and she needed to leave, so Thomas asked to borrow the officer's flashlight to search for the youngest child.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Thomas discovered the child's lifeless body when she accidently kicked it with her foot upon entering the pool. The officer performed CPR and another witness called 911. The child was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.
"It was unreasonable and reckless for the suspect to spend an estimated 15 minutes on Facebook and all the time playing with her pit bull 'Sugar' while the [child] was in the pool without any supervision," the arrest warrant reads.
If indicted and convicted on the charge of reckless injury to a child as a second degree felony, Thomas could face up to 20 years in prison.
Dallas criminal defense attorney John Teakell says the District Attorney's Office could still decide to charge Thomas with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide or a lesser degree of injury to a child. Teakell says a big factor in determining the charge is whether it appears to be Thomas' inaction or her direct action that led to the child's death.
"It appears negligent homicide might be a charge that could fit from what we know about the alleged facts," Teakell says. "It will ultimately be up to the DA to decide what charge to pursue."
The DA's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this case.
Thomas has previously been arrested on a terroristic threat charge. She is being held in Dallas County Jail on a $25,000 bond.