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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2009

Man who tried to kill girl, 3, sent to prison

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Thomas Bragg pleaded no contest to attempted murder after trying asphyxiate his daughter. Thomas Bragg pleaded no contest to attempted murder after trying asphyxiate his daughter.
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Trista Bragg said she has received "letter after letter" from her daughter's father that speak of his love for the young girl and the times he misses being with her.

"Yet he tried to kill her," she wrote in a statement that was read on her behalf while she stood visibly shaking in a Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom yesterday. "To look in that little girl's face and prepare her execution chamber - that is not love."

Thomas Bragg, 46, of 4129 Willys Pkwy. was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading no contest last month to a charge of attempted murder. He was convicted of attempting to asphyxiate his then-3-year-old daughter by attaching a hose from a car's exhaust pipe to the interior of the vehicle with a hose positioned just inches from the girl's face.

Alternate counts of attempted murder and felonious assault were dismissed.

Judge Linda Jennings told Bragg that he took "no responsibility" for his actions on the night of July 9 when he picked up his daughter, gathered up blankets and pillows, and took her to a darkened parking lot. She said that instead he has blamed others and his mental health issues for his "reprehensible" actions.

According to Assistant County Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson, Bragg learned in early July that his wife of four years was planning to file for divorce. He said that just days later, on the day before the incident, Mrs. Bragg had filed a police report against him and had planned to stay out of the house.

Mrs. Bragg knew her daughter was with Bragg, and the couple agreed that he would return the young girl the next day. Instead, he went to his Willys Parkway residence and gathered supplies.

He told his daughter they were going camping, Mr. Anderson said at the plea hearing last month.

When Toledo police arrived - alerted by a truck driver who noticed the car running with its lights covered with duct tape - the door nearest Bragg was slightly ajar so that he could get air.

Because the car was found about 25 feet north of the border in Michigan, Bragg's attorney, Jack Viren, had attempted to have the indictment dismissed, citing Lucas County's lack of jurisdiction.

Judge Jennings denied the motion, saying that the conduct began in Toledo.

Mr. Viren said Bragg will likely appeal the ruling.

Bragg told Judge Jennings yesterday that he loves his wife and daughter and plans to one day be back in their lives.

He said he has struggled with depression and that he "fought right up to the end."

"I'm here today to be sentenced for a crime that I can't explain," Bragg said, adding that he "was not in control of my senses. I hope that I get back sooner than later to get back into my little girl's life."

Bragg's daughter, now 4, rarely speaks of her father, Mrs. Bragg said after the hearing.

She said she has removed his photographs from their home and explained to the young girl, "Daddy is sick."

"I wish he would have gotten more time, but he got what he deserved," a tearful Mrs. Bragg said after the hearing. "What a coward. It's one thing to kill yourself, but a baby?"

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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