Mother charged in 12-year-old son's death released from parole in 2014

Woman previously attempted to drown son as 10-month-old

By Olga R. Rodriguez
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman accused of drowning her 12-year-old son in a California irrigation ditch was released from probation in 2014 after her parole officer in Montana said she didn’t pose any risk to the boy she had tried to drown as a baby in a Montana river.

Sherri Telnas’ Montana parole officer recommended in July 2014 conditional release from her supervision, saying 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,” court documents show.

Telnas, 45, was charged Tuesday with the killing of her oldest son, Jackson, and the attempted killing of her 7-year-old son, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said. Her youngest son remains at a hospital in critical condition.

Telnas was sentenced in 2009 to the custody of Montana health officials for two 10-year sentences running consecutively for trying to drown the then-10-month-old boy. She transferred her supervision to California in 2012, according to court documents.

In her request to a judge, 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.

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.

He also noted that the boy’s father, Jacob Telnas, did not fight testimony that he was unemployed, living with friends, smoked marijuana on a daily basis and drank alcohol regularly.

She later reunited with her ex-husband, and their second son was born in 2012, said Ellie Brown, who is married to the boys’ uncle. The couple lived together in California for a time, and Telnas had been alone with the boys for about a year, she said.

Telnas was arrested Saturday in her rural home near Porterville, about 270 miles (435 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

A judge in California on Tuesday denied bail and scheduled her arraignment for Wednesday at her request. Authorities didn’t know if she had an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

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.