WAXAHACHIE — After less than an hour of deliberation, an Ellis County jury handed down a maximum sentence to former Maypearl Police Chief Kevin Coffey on Tuesday afternoon in the 443rd Judicial District Court.
Coffey was convicted on Friday on the charges of sexual contact and the sexual assault of at least one child younger than 17 years old. Each charge carries a 20-year sentence and, as charged by Judge Cindy Ermatinger, will run consecutively — meaning Coffey will have to finish one charge before the other begins.
Ermatinger presented the formal options for sentencing when court reconvened after lunch Tuesday afternoon. Those options included probation or no more than 20 years but no less than two years in prison for each charge. In addition to the sentencing options, the jury could also levy a fine against Coffey.
Before the jury retreated to their chambers to deliberate the sentencing, attorneys from the Ellis County District Office, Ricky Sipes and Grace Pandithurai, along with Coffey’s attorney Jim Jenkins, delivered closing remarks.
Pandithurai addressed the court and said the best way to protect the community is to give Coffey the maximum sentence of 40 years.
“On behalf of our victim, I want to say thank you. The verdict was just. We believed that the punishment for both charges is 20 years. The only way we can protect Ellis County is to put this predator behind bars as long we can. There is no condition that restores what he took from the victim. When you give Kevin Coffey a 20-year sentence that is what he did every time he hurt those kids.”
Jenkins followed Pandithurai and encouraged the jury to follow the law and not their emotions.
“You were chosen by us (during jury selection) to carry this and to return a true verdict based on the law and evidence. There is no evidence that Mr. Coffey is a man of violence and a man of force. He turned himself in to law enforcement,” Jenkins said. “I am going to ask you to consider applying grace. Does Mr. Coffey deserve grace? No. Return a true verdict based on the evidence so that when you walk out of here you will know it was your best work.”
Sipes followed Jenkins and said Coffey’s betrayal of the victims, the community and fellow members of law enforcement deserves more than just probation.
“There were two sides to Kevin Coffey. It is clear that this man had a fetish for 14-year-old girls,” Sipes said. “Kevin Coffey was calculated. This was seen 17 years ago when he served in Grandview. The nature of these offenses is egregious.”
Prior to the lunch break and following the testimony of the sixth juvenile who said Coffey often "creeped" her out, Texas Ranger Adam Sweaney was called back to the stand. Sweaney was the lead investigator in the case.
Sipes asked Sweaney if, through the course of his investigation, he was made aware of any other girls that were possible victims.
Sweaney said several, who at the time of the alleged offenses were 14 and 15 years old, contacted him. He added that when the media published reports of the investigation, the victims began coming forward with more frequency. Sweaney testified that his investigation proved that Coffey found his victims through his official capacity as a law enforcement officer — whether as a school resource officer or as an officer on patrol.
Sweaney also told the court that a search of Coffey’s electronic devices revealed internet searches for sex stories about incest.
Sipes asked Sweaney if he has seen a lot of support for Coffey, to which he replied, "No." Sweaney also told the court that he believes Coffey has tarnished the badge and made it more difficult for police officers that actually want to make a difference.
Jenkins asked Sweaney during cross-examination that if investigators found anything on his son’s computer after conducting an examination of it, which Sweaney told the court they did not.
Jenkins then called Maypearl Mayor Adele Mooney to the witness stand to testify and asked the mayor what kind of a person Coffey was before the arrests. Mooney told the court that before everything came to light, she thought that Coffey was a good officer, who was well invested in the community and a law-abiding person. She added that if the council and herself knew what was going on there would have been no way they would have let him continue in his role a police chief.
Pandithurai then asked Mooney if she knew of the lewd acts that were taking place in his office, such as showing an underage girl a picture of his penis. Mooney emphatically replied that she did not.
Pandithurai then asked do consider him well respected. Mooney again replied, "No."
Larry Burns, who is the president of the Cowboy Bank in Maypearl, was also called to the stand. Burns informed Jenkins that the bank and police department had worked together on community projects, such as "Shop with a Cop" and National Night Out.
Sipes asked Burns during cross-examination if he believed the accusations.
“Based on what I have read, I do. There is going to be some healing that needs to be done,” Burns said. “It has been an embarrassment to our town.”
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