Jury gives Lucas Coe life sentence in toddler rape case

HOUSTON The jury returned a verdict around 12:30pm Thursday that /*Lucas Coe*/ should spend his life behind bars without parole for raping four-year-old Emma Thompson.

Evidence showed Emma had blunt force trauma to the abdomen, a skull fracture, head lacerations, about 80 bruises, and bleeding from a torn genitalia after the attack on June 27, 2009. She was later taken to a hospital, where she died.

Closing arguments this morning for both sides were short, taking less than an hour.

"Life's not even really enough for what he's done," prosecutor Colleen Barnett said in court. "Sometimes the smallest voices are actually the loudest. And you know that she's talking to you."

"I respect the decision that you made in this case. I don't agree with the decision that you made in this case. I respect whatever decision you make in punishment in this case," said Coe's attorney, William Van Buren.

In the punishment phase of Coe's trial, jurors heard testimony about other assaults and brutality by Coe. A 10-year-old boy said he was hospitalized for several days after a beating by the defendant.

Prosecutors pushed for the maximum sentence and that is what the jury handed down after deliberating for less than three hours. Coe had faced a sentence of 25 to 99 years behind bars. There is no possibility of parole for him. He was also fined $10,000.

Coe, 28, had no reaction to the sentence in the courtroom.

After Thursday's punishment was read, Ben Thompson, the biological father of Emma, told us that Coe is not a man and his life is worth nothing. Thompson added that he will never forget writing a letter to his daughter after her death that he failed her.

"I don't think he's going to have a very comfortable life where he's going to. I think that I'm gonna think of him as dead until someone in prison makes him that way and then I'm not going to think about him anymore," Ben Thompson said.

The jury of eight men and five women took less than three hours to sentence Coe to life in prison with no possibility of parole. They convicted him Tuesday of super aggravated sexual assault for the mortal injuries he inflicted on the 4-year-old old girl last year.

After the sentencing, her family was able to tell Coe how their lives have changed.

"We will not forget what evil was done to Emma Thompson. And we know who did it," said Emma's grandfather, Jim Thompson.

Emma's grandmother, Laurie, spoke directly to the defense, admonishing them for their depiction of Emma as clumsy and sickly, and asking them not to forget her.

"I wanted everyone to share in some way in the future, in some small way to have a reminder of Emma and how her life mattered," Laurie Thompson said.

"I can't fault the [jury]. What that family has gone through has been horrendous. Had the roles been reversed, had I been in dad's shoes, I don't know if we'd be in the courthouse," said Coe's attorney William Van Buren.

Emma's aunt said she hopes Coe is haunted by the vision of Emma's face.

The toddler's mother, Abigail Young, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 12 for failing to protect her daughter from Coe.

Coe's attorneys have already filed an appeal in the case.

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