Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Abigail Elizabeth Young Charged with Death of 4-year-old

A Spring woman and her boyfriend are charged in the death of the woman's daughter, a 4-year-old who authorities said today suffered 80 contusions in the days leading to her death on June 27.

Abigail Elizabeth Young, 33, kept her head down, saying nothing as homicide detectives brought her to the Harris County jail. Also arrested Monday was her boyfriend, Lucas Ruric Coe, 27. Both have been charged with felony injury to a child, officials said Monday.

The couple is accused in the death of Young's daughter, Emma Thompson. The Harris County Sheriff's Office released some details today, including the number of contusions.

In a brief hearing today, Coe was ordered held without bond and Young is jailed in lieu of a $50,000 bond. Young, still wearing hospital scrubs because she was arrested Monday while working as a registered nurse at Trinity Medical Center in Brenham, stood before the magistrate judge with her arms folded, looking in Coe's direction and shaking her head.

Coe, in an orange jail jumpsuit, deliberately sat behind a post out of camera view until his name was called. He stood solemnly before the judge, head down.

When authorities tried to arrest him Monday at a home in Magnolia where he had been staying with a relative, Coe tried to flee but was quickly apprehended, officials said.

“When he saw them coming, he tried to run,” said A.J. Kelly, an investigator with the Harris County sheriff's homicide division.

Wearing a T-shirt that said, “It's all fun and games until the cops show up,” Coe also refused to comment about the case as detectives led him to an unmarked car for his trip to the Harris County Jail.

“I have nothing to say without my attorney,” Coe said.

Ruled a homicide
On Friday, a pathologist with the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Conroe ruled that Emma died as a result of blunt abdominal trauma, which caused the child to bleed internally, Harris County sheriff's detectives said.

“The manner (of death) was consistent with homicide,” Kelly said.

Emma died at Memorial Hermann-The Woodlands Hospital after she became unconscious at the family's home in Spring.

In addition to the abdominal trauma that caused her death, Emma also suffered a skull fracture and vaginal tearing — evidence of sexual assault, officials said.

Kelly wouldn't say if investigators believe the couple intended to harm Emma or whether her death was the result of discipline that had gone out of control.

“We're not going to speak about intent at this point,“ he said. “It's obvious that the child suffered abuse.“

A neighbor told officials that Young said the fatal injuries were caused by two separate falls — and that she tried to save Emma's life by using Super Glue to close a wound on her head. Detectives became suspicious after questioning the couple.

“The statements given by both the mother of the child and the boyfriend were inconsistent with the injuries,” Kelly said.

He declined to say what the couple told detectives that led them to be considered the prime suspects in Emma's death.

Sheriff's detectives also declined to comment about any sexual assaults Emma may have suffered at the hands of the accused couple.

“We can confirm the child had oral and vaginal herpes,” Kelly said.

Why that charge
Kelly said that prosecutors on Monday opted for the felony injury to a child charge because it was the best way that both could be accused for the crime. He said it could be upgraded to murder as the investigation continues.

“It's still a life-sentence charge,“ Kelly said.

The news of an arrest brought some relief to one of Emma's relatives.

“I feel blessed that justice is being serviced, and hopefully justice will be served for my niece,“ said Amanda Young Mathews, Young's sister. “We just want the truth to be known.“

She described her niece as a fun-loving girl. “She had a bright future and was taken away too soon.“

Mathews said she was horrified at what happened to her niece. “She will be missed forever,” Mathews said.

In early June, Texas Child Protective Services first began investigating a complaints about Emma's care.

Officials with the agency determined the child tested positive for genital herpes, but she was not removed from the home at the time.

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