*Editor's note: This article recaps the afternoon session of the State of Texas v Kevin Coffey. Due to press deadlines, it was not completed in time for Thursday's issue of the Daily Light.
WAXAHACHIE — Kevin Coffey Jr. gave short answers in response to questions about his father, former Maypearl Police Chief Kevin Coffey Sr., from attorneys during the Wednesday afternoon proceedings in the 443rd Judicial District Court. However, Coffey Jr. provided the jury with insight about the days before his father turned himself into the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office on July 22, 2015.
Coffey’s Attorney James Jenkins asked about the day law enforcement officers conducted the search of their home. Coffey Jr. told the court that he answered the door when officers knocked and had to get his father out of bed. Once outside the two were not allowed to go back into the home. Coffey Jr. remarked, “he could not go back in to get his shoes” or “go out to get his father some food.”
He stated when asked about those requests, “they were denied.”
Jenkins then asked what the health of his father was before the search took place. Coffey Jr. said he was working more than 70 hours a week and that his health was deteriorating. He said he knew this because he had gone to doctors’ appointments with Coffey Sr.
“Doctors said that he would be dead in five years if he didn’t take care of himself,” Coffey Jr. said.
Texas Ranger Adam Sweaney testified earlier in the day that, after the search was conducted at the residence, Coffey Sr. was not arrested at that time. Leading up to Coffey Sr. turning himself in, his son testified the thought he shared with him and the actions he took.
Coffey Jr. told the court when he went to his father’s bedroom the morning of July 22, 2015, his face didn’t appear to be right. The son told the court that his father took advice from a friend and “took a bunch of pills” to kill himself. Coffey Jr. added that “He (Coffey Sr.) said the 24-hour period to turn himself in was cop lingo for ‘kill yourself if you did it.’”
Coffey Jr. then told the court he drove his father to jail and “assumed he was innocent.”
Assistant District Attorney Grace Pandithurai asked Coffey Jr. about the access he had to the electric devices and social media programs that were in the apartment. Coffey Jr. told the court that he didn’t have the administrative password to the Hewlett-Packard Desktop computer that they shared. He had his own separate log on, which was different from his father’s. Pandithurai then asked if he downloaded any of the naked photos of girls found on the computer. Coffey Jr. replied with a firm “no.”
Pandithurai then asked about the cell phones his father had. He told her that Coffey Sr. had one for work and one for personal use. He added that the only directive Coffey Sr. gave him was that, if the work phone rang and it was dispatch, he would need to get him up if he was asleep.
Pandithurai then asked Coffey Jr. if his father had tried to contact him while he was in jail. Coffey Jr. testified that his father had asked him to see someone for him.
“I didn’t contact them because it felt like it would be tampering with the case,” Coffey Jr. said.
Following the testimony by Coffey Jr., Angela Marquart was called to the stand. Marquart is a former councilor with the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center who is now working in the same role in Tarrant County.
According to the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center’s website, the center’s mission is to help young victims that have been involved in cases of child abuse, sexual abuse, homicide or who have witnessed a child death. The center works with local law enforcement agencies to provide a safe place where victims can be interviewed once and not have to re-live the experience through multiple interviews.
Marquart was asked by Pandithurai what the first step in the process was when a child comes to the center. Marquart told the court that a forensic interview is set up. A forensic interviewer interviews the child so they can tell their story. Members of law enforcement are in a separate room watching the interview unfold on television.
She said her role comes in after that interview.
Marquart provided counseling to the second juvenile that was involved in this case.
Pandithurai asked if counseling techniques were different when interviewing a child compared to a teenager. Marquart replied that, with a child, more “play therapy” could be used, such as drawing or using toys. But with a teenager, they want to be talked to like an adult.
Pandithurai also enquired if a child or a teen undergoing council processes the abuse in the same way. Marquart said each person is different because various factors can affect him or her, like what things are going on at home as the counseling is happening.
She added that when an adult is an abuser of a child they have authority, but with the addition of a title or social status, it makes the child feel like the abuser is immune.
Jenkins, under cross-examination, asked Marquart if the second juvenile had stated that Coffey Sr. encouraged her at points to make better choices in her life by making better friends or to stop using alcohol.
Marquart said he did, but also stated that friendship is another way that abusers try to build trust and groom children.
The last witness that was called to the stand to testify was another mother of one of the juveniles. Pandithurai asked her how she came to know Coffey. The mother told the court that she made a report to the Maypearl Police Department that her daughter had run away from home and Coffey Sr. was the one that worked on the case.
Pandithurai asked the mother if she had given a cell phone to Coffey Sr. She replied that she had given her daughter’s cell phone to him to see if he could access it to give her a clue as to where her daughter was. The mother stated that Coffey Sr. was going to take it to someone in law enforcement to have unlocked due to it being password protected. She added that she never got the phone back.
The state then showed photos that were taken off of one of Coffey Sr.’s electronic devices. The images depicted a nude female in various states of being undressed. The mother identified the images as her daughter by items in the room where the photos were taken in or from physical attributes such as the way her daughter painted her nails or her hairstyle.
Jenkins, under cross-examination, asked the mother if she or her ex-husband didn’t receive the phone back from Maypearl Police if it could have been given back to her daughter. The mother replied that she didn’t know, but it could have.
Pandithurai then followed up Jenkins' question and asked the mother if she had seen her daughter and the phone together after she was found a day later in Getzendaner Park in Waxahachie. The mother replied, “no.”
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