From his cell in the Weber County Jail, where he awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to killing his wife's 5-year-old son, James H. Thomas maintains his innocence.

"I guess now is not the time to stick up for myself," Thomas, 30, wrote in a letter to the Ogden Standard-Examiner less than a week after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Nicholas McGuire, whose body was found buried in the family's Roy back yard."I pleaded guilty because my lawyer told me even if we took it to a jury, that I would lose," he wrote.

Police unearthed Nicholas' body on Dec. 17 behind the home where Thomas lived with his 28-year-old wife, Debra, and five children. The four other children, whom prosecutors say showed signs of abuse and neglect, have been placed in foster homes.

Thomas entered the plea to the homicide charge and Debra Thomas pleaded guilty a week ago to five child-abuse charges alleging she failed to stop or report her husband's treatment of the children.

Both are to be sentenced on Feb. 15. Thomas faces five years to life in prison. His wife could be sentenced to up to five years on the most serious charge, a third-degree felony. The other four were misdemeanors.

An autopsy on the child was inconclusive, listing possible causes of death as suffocation and child abuse. Investigators believe the boy was killed Nov. 17.

Public defender Martin Gravais said Thomas told police he had hit the boy, but that he didn't think he injured him, and that he discovered the next morning that the boy had stopped breathing.

Thomas objected to statements from Weber County Attorney Reed Richards about the condition of the four other children.

"They weren't locked in rooms for days. They did get to eat breakfast, lunch, supper. I never starved them," Thomas wrote. "The kids don't say much not from fear of me; there is not much to say.

"In the paper you make me seem to be like Hitler to the Jews with the kids. I was not," he wrote. "I was raising the kids the way I was."