State Attorney Bill Eddins will seek an indictment for first-degree murder in the case of Thelma Denise Lowery, the Milton day care owner accused of abusing a 16-month-old boy who later died from his injuries.
Eddins said he will present evidence to a grand jury in the next few weeks.
“Under the law, second-degree murder has a penalty of up to life in prison,” Eddins said, adding that life in prison is the steepest available sentence; the punishment could be less time. “If we indict for first-degree murder, there are two options: mandatory life in prison and death.”
Lowery, 55, was originally charged with aggravated child abuse, a felony, after the toddler was admitted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola with traumatic injuries Oct. 24. The boy died Oct. 29.
Eddins filed a second-degree murder charge on Oct. 30. A first-degree murder indictment can only be charged by a grand jury in Florida.
Lowery is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 31 where bail will be set regarding the second-degree charge.
An investigation conducted by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office concluded the injuries were sustained by the toddler while in Lowery’s care at her home-based day care business “Lowery’s Little Angels” located at 4738 Ward Basin Road in Milton.
Lowery, also a former volunteer with the East Milton Fire Department, has been running the day care since 1994.