Man charged in girl's death out of jail

September 12, 2009 9:43:20 PM PDT
Neighbors are reacting with outrage after a man charged in the death of a four-year-old girl was allowed to walk out of jail Friday.Lucas Coe was already out on bond, accused of seriously injuring a young boy when Harris County homicide detectives say when they arrested him for Emma Thompson's death. Now, a local crime victim's advocate says he has been given yet one more chance to re-offend.

At Coe's home in Magnolia, there's no sign of him. But neighbors are wary he could now be in their midst.

"I'm amazed he got out of jail," said neighbor Bobby Hartman.

Coe and his girlfriend Abigail Young were arrested and charged last month for felony injury to a child after her daughter's death. Investigators say the four-year-old had dozens of bruises, a fractured skull and a brain hemorrhage. A medical examiner also found evidence of sexual assault.

A judge initially ordered Coe held without bond at the Harris County Jail, but Thursday, Judge Mary Lou Keel reconsidered that decision. And Friday, Coe walked out of jail after posting $100,000 bail.

The news of his release outraged crime victims advocate Andy Kahan.

"Whatever little strands of hair I had left shot up. I was absolutely floored, stunned, I just thought it was preposterous," said Kahan.

Kahan says Coe should never have been released. At the time of Emma's death, he was already out on bond awaiting trial on allegations he beat another girlfriend's young son. Kahan says this repeat offender just got one more chance to strike again.

"From my perspective, I'd certainly hope and pray that no other child meets the same fate," said Kahan.

As a rule, judges don't comment on ongoing cases. But legal analyst Joel Androphy believes the judge may have set a $100,000 bond, believing Coe would never be able to pay it. Or, he said, the judge may have doubts about the strength of the evidence.

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