Opening statements in toddler rape case

September 14, 2010 10:29:36 AM PDT
Lawyers gave their opening statements in the aggravated sexual assault trial of Lucas Coe. He is accused of repeatedly raping four-year-old Emma Thompson, who died last year as a result of the abuse. Lucas Coe is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child in the case of the four-year-old who became known as Baby Emma after her death. Prosecutors say on the day she died, Coe sexually assaulted and beat Emma.

The child's mother, Abigail Young, was Coe's girlfriend at the time. Young was convicted of injury to a child by omission for failing to protect her four-year-old from ongoing abuse.

When Emma Thompson arrived at the hospital, she had massive injuries that prosecutors say were the direct result of a brutal sexual assault. They also say they can prove that Coe was the only adult male alone with the child that day. But Coe's attorneys argue someone else could have caused the child's injuries.

"The body of Emma Thompson had over 70 bruises," said prosecutor Tina Ansari. "She had a busted lip. She had numerous bruises all over her body. She died because of abdominal trauma. She had a severed pancreas."

"It's going to be the state's position that this monster, as she's sick and dying, this monster is sexually assaulting her at that time," said defense attorney William Van Buren. "Although prior to that, all the time that he was around her in May, all the times leading up to June 8, there's no evidence of sexual assault."

Prosecutors put on their first witness - a nurse who saw Emma the day she died. They will also be presenting to the jury a number of gruesome autopsy photos. Prosecution witnesses who will be called to testify in this case include Emma Thompson's older half-sister, as well as her pediatrician.

The charge against Coe is super aggravated. If he is convicted, he will serve his entire sentence and will not be eligible for parole. The penalty range in this case is 25 to 99 years, or life in prison.


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