Jury finds Lucas Coe guilty in toddler rape case

September 21, 2010 5:45:11 PM PDT
A jury has returned a guilty verdict in a high profile rape case. Lucas Coe was found guilty of super aggravated sexual assault of a child. He was accused of raping the little four-year-old Spring girl known as Baby Emma before she died last June from severe abdominal trauma. Coe showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

In the courtroom, family members of the victim and the defendant both cried. However, both had very different opinions afterward.

Emma's father and grandmother cried softly as they left the courtroom. Laurie Thompson, Baby Emma's grandmother, told us the guilty verdict will not bring back Emma.

"We'll always have a hole in our hear for Emma," she said. "But hopefully, no other children will suffer what Emma suffered, and no other family will have to go through what we've gone through."

Coe was dating Emma's mother Abigail Young at the time of the little girl's death last year. Prosecutors say she had a severed pancreas, skull and rib fractures and that she had also been sexually assaulted. Young was sentenced to 20 years in prison for failing to protect her daughter earlier this year.

Coe's family declined comment. Instead, one of Coe's lawyers spoke on their behalf.

"The family is obviously very, very devastated by the verdict today. It was not what they anticipated or hoped," said the lawyer. "At this point in time, they vehemently continue to believe in the innocence of their son."

The judge told the jury they are to come back on Wednesday to begin the punishment phase in this trial.

Coe can be sentenced up to 99 years in prison, and no matter what the length of sentence, he will not be eligible for parole due to the heightened charge.

Closing arguments heard Tuesday morning

The defense team spent their morning poking holes in the prosecution's case against Coe. They say Emma's injuries were not consistent with that of sexual abuse. They say while the child had herpes, prosecutors can't prove it was actually passed to her through Coe. And while Emma had 70 bruises on her body when she died, some of those bruises may have actually come from when doctors and nurses were performing CPR on Baby Emma.

The defense has asked jurors not to 'be herded like sheep into a guilty verdict.' They have asked for jurors' courage, stamina and an open mind.

"They're going to try to overwhelm you with emotions," said defense attorney Rick DeToto. "They're going to try to take away your common sense and your judgment with emotions."

Jurors were prepared with an overnight bag, because the judge has said if they didn't reach a verdict today, they would be sequestered.


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