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Experts testify in toddler rape case

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The man accused of brutally beating and sexually assaulting little Emma Thompson is on trial. A lot of people remember the four-year-old's death last summer because of the heinous nature of the crime and the fact that Emma's own mother was charged in connection with her death.

The first day of testimony got underway with two nurses and a crime scene investigator, as the prosecution tries to prove that Lucas Coe sexually assaulted four-year-old Emma Thompson.

"You are guilty, you are guilty, you are guilty," prosecutor Colleen Barnett told the jury.

On Day One of testimony in the super aggravated sexual assault trial of Lucas Coe both the prosecution and the defense swiftly made their cases.

Defense attorney William Van Buren said, "Emma Thompson was not sexually assaulted, period."

Two nurses took the stand Tuesday morning. One of them was Karolyn Swann, the charge nurse at Memorial Hermann: The Woodlands. She was on duty at the hospital on June 27, 2009 -- the night Emma was brought to the ER and died. Swann told the prosecution the preschooler was bruised and unconscious. But defense, on cross, asked if medical treatment could have caused Emma's bruises.

The defense asked, "It's not uncommon for there to be bruising even serious injuries from CPR?"

Swann responded, "No."

Coe's defense says the four-year-old was not sexually assaulted, despite injury to her genitals and a case of herpes.

Van Buren said, "It's never been our claim that there was not a vaginal injury. It's our claim that the vaginal injury was not part of a sexual assault."

Coe himself sat expressionless as the prosecution called its witnesses. Crime scene investigator Mark McElvaney described what he found at the girl's house the morning after she died -- blood spots and smears through the two story house. He also described a second visit to the home in July 2009, to go through garbage found in the garage, including a pair of toddler girl's underwear.

The prosecutor asked, "What is the reason you collected these underwear?"

McElvaney answered, "Because I was still looking for evidence relating to a sexual assault."

The prosecution admits this is a difficult trial, but says their evidence points to Coe as Emma's attacker.

Barnett said, "We are trying to prove Lucas Coe badly injured Emma. The charge is super aggravated sexual assault of a child."

The trial continues on Wednesday. One of Emma's older sisters, an 11-year-old, will reportedly testify in front of cameras so she does not have to testify in front of Coe. Emma's father is also scheduled to testify in the days to come.

Emma's mother is serving a 20 year sentence, for the role she played in her daughter's death. In July, Abigail Young was convicted of injury to a child by omission for failing to protect Emma from the ongoing sexual and physical abuse that killed her. The jury gave young the maximum penalty of 20 years, but she could be released after five years with good behavior.

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