Tulare Co. DA charges Sherri Telnas with murder for drowning death of 12-year-old son

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sherri Telnas is being charged with murder and several other criminal charges for drowning her 12-year-old son Jackson and critically injuring her 7-year-old son Jacob Ray.

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward announced Tuesday that Telnas is charged with one count of murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait, one count of attempted murder causing great bodily injury, one count of gassing, and one count of battery on a peace officer.

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That special circumstance of lying in wait makes Telnas eligible for the death penalty.

"There are two different kinds of 'lying in wait,'" explains Tulare County Assistant District Attorney David Alavezo. "One would be if somebody hides behind a tree or a bush and waits for the victim to pass unseen and then shoots them. Another kind of lying in wait is where you invite somebody to dinner of the intention of once you get them over you're going to kill them."

Prosecutors say Telnas caused a brain injury to Jacob Ray, who remains in critical condition at Valley Children's Hospital.

Early Saturday morning, Jackson and Jacob Ray were found unresponsive in an irrigation ditch near the Tulare County town of Plainview.

An autopsy revealed Jackson's cause of death as drowning.

On Tuesday we also learned that after being taken into custody, Telnas threw a cup containing spit at a detective during an interview after her arrest, which is why she has now been charged with gassing. She also faces a misdemeanor charge of battery on another detective.

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Telnas was supposed to be arraigned on the charges Tuesday afternoon, but she requested that the hearing be delayed until Wednesday. When she does appear at the Tulare County Pre-Trial facility, bail, and a future court date will be set for Telnas.

If convicted on all charges, Telnas faces a maximum sentence of either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
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