A second-degree murder charge has been filed against a Roy man who was previously charged with abuse or desecration of a human body in connection with the death and burial of his 5-year-old stepson.

James Thomas and Debra Thomas were both charged one month ago with illegally burying the body of Nicolas McGuire in the couple's back yard.They were scheduled to enter pleas to the third-degree felony charge Friday, but 2nd District Judge Ronald O. Hyde remanded the case back to 2nd Circuit Court when Weber County Attorney Reed Richards said additional charges would be filed against both defendants.

Debra Thomas, 28, and James Thomas, 30, were then taken before 2nd Circuit Judge Brent West where James Thomas was charged with killing the boy on Nov. 11. Debra Thomas was charged with second-degree child abuse for causing physical harm to her son on Nov. 11.

A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 28. If convicted, both defendants could be sentenced to serve up to five years in prison for burying the boy between Nov. 11 and Nov. 16. James Thomas could also face a five-years-to-life sentence on the first-degree felony murder charge, and Debra Thomas could be sentenced to serve an additional one to 15 years in prison on the child abuse charge.

Richards has thus far refused to discuss the cause of death, but defense attorney John Caine said the autopsy report revealed the boy died from asphyxia.

The Thomases were arrested Dec. 17 after Roy police dug up the small boy's body - stuffed inside two plastic garbage bags - in their back yard. The two were booked into the Weber County Jail where they remain in lieu of a $35,000 bond each.

Defense attorney Bernie Allen said that Debra Thomas may be forced to testify for the state and against her husband if the case goes to trial, and Martin Gravis, another defense attorney, said that plea bargain negotiations may be forthcoming.

Four other children living in the Thomas home when the couple was taken into custody were turned over to the Division of Family Services and placed in foster homes. Debra Thomas is now pregnant with her sixth child.