Paul Thomas enters Alford plea, sentenced to 15 months

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PULASKI COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Paul Thomas, the father of 5-year-old Noah Thomas, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for felony child abuse and neglect.

The judge handed down the sentence shortly after Thomas entered an Alford plea during his trial Wednesday morning.

In entering an Alford plea, the defendant doesn't admit to the crime, but instead admits that the evidence the prosecution has would likely persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty.

Thomas, charged with two counts of felony child abuse and neglect, faced a maximum sentence of 10 years. He was sentenced to five years on the first charge with one year and three months to serve and five years probation. For the second charge, he was sentenced to five years with all five years suspended and five years probation.

Thomas's lawyer argued the sentencing guidelines in this case call for probation only, no jail time. He also argued the judge should disregard all the attention this case has gotten and do what is normally done in these types of cases.

The charges are related to Thomas leaving his two children at home alone while his girlfriend, Ashley White, took him to work last March. White says she returned home and took a nap, and that's when Noah disappeared. The boy's body was found four days later in a septic tank near his Dublin home.

Thomas took the stand Wednesday morning during his trial and said he accepts responsibility for what he did, and it was the worst decision of his life to leave his two kids at home alone the morning Noah died. Prosecutors said they were not alleging Thomas had anything to do with Noah's death.

White was convicted last month of three felony counts of abuse and neglect. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 16.