The Texas 10th Court of Appeals affirmed the criminal convictions and 40-year sentencing of a former Maypearl Police chief Wednesday evening.
The decision comes 28 months after an Ellis County jury convicted of Kevin Coffey for the sexual contact and abuse of at least one child under the age of 17. His victims number much higher than one, however.
As previously reported by the Daily Light, an Ellis County jury in the 443rd Judicial District Court formally convicted Coffey on the charges of indecency and sexual assault of at least one child younger than 17 years old on Feb. 17, 2017. That same jury then needed less than an hour of deliberation before handing down the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison — 20 years for each charge. The sentences are to run consecutively.
According to 14 pages of documents provided to the Daily Light, Coffey challenged the convictions and sentence on five issues in his appeal to the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco.
Coffey first claimed the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress because his arrest warrant, which there were three, failed to provide for the examination and analysis of the digital evidence seized. He then stated the court erred in deciding that the extraneous offenses were admissible as outlined in Article 38.37, Section 2(b) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. That point then led Coffey to claim the section of the Texas Code violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The final two issues raised by Coffey insisted the sentence violated his constitutional rights for being "grossly disproportionate to the crime and inappropriate to the offender." He challenged the convictions pursuant to the Eighth Amendment and Article I, Section 13 of the Texas Constitution.
In a 14-page memorandum opinion filed Wednesday, Justice Rex D. Davis debunked all five issues raised.
"Having overruled all of Coffey's issues, we affirm the judgment of the trial court," Davis stated in his conclusion.
"All of the women were young teenagers who were troubled or came from broken homes," he noted on page 13. "They were vulnerable to a male authority figure, whether law enforcement or paternal."
Davis previously served as the Chief Justice of the 10th Court of Appeals from 1996-2003 and currently sits in Place 2.
Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson applauded the opinion issued by Davis.
"We were confident that the court of appeals would affirm the convictions," Wilson stated. "I'm pleased that Coffey's victims can take another step forward, distancing themselves even more from the man that caused them so much pain."
As noted, Coffey's conviction and actions were not related to only one child. Neither were his sexual advances that led to the 2017 trail limited to his actions in 2015.
During the trial, six juveniles testified against the former police officer who spent a total of 17 years and two months in law enforcement. A seventh victim testified that she also was sexually assaulted by Coffey at the age of 14. She was 30 years old on the day of the trial n 2017.
According to records previously obtained by the Daily Light, Coffey spent time at the police departments in Tolar, Grandview, Hudson Oaks, Maypearl, Italy and Rio Vista, as well as a stint with the Johnson County Sheriff's office.
His final stint as a law enforcement officer came following a rehire by the Maypearl Police Department in 2010, which ultimately led to his promotion to police chief in September 2013.
Coffey has since been charged for indecency with a minor in Hill County, as well as sexual assault of a minor in Johnson County.
Though he did not ever admit to sexually abusing or contacting any of his victims, Coffey did acknowledge that he would often send sexual SnapChat messages and conduct sexually-charged Skype sessions with children.
When asked in open court and after sexually-themed photos were shown if he was "a pervert," Coffey responded, "From those photos, I guess it appears that I am."
The Daily Light also reported that seven of Coffey's victims testified during the 2017 court proceedings. Those recounts ranged from detailed accounts of sexual assault to often feeling "creeped" out by his actions and presence.
The victims retold the jurors of gropings in Coffey's office, masturbation videos he sent electronically and times he asked them to pose sexually for photos.
Texas Ranger Adam Sweaney also told the court that several juveniles, who at the time of the offenses were between 14-15 years old, contacted his office to submit statements detailing Coffey's sexual advances, contact and assault. He noted that victims began coming forward with more frequency following media reports.
Sweaney also noted that victims stated Coffey often used his official capacity, whether as a school resource officer or police officer, to contact his prey. The Texas Ranger informed the court that a search of Coffey's electronic devices revealed internet searches for incest and other sexual oddities.
When asked if he had received letters or testimonies of support for Coffey throughout the investigation process, Sweaney replied to the court, "No."
Larry Burns, the president of the Cowboy Bank in Maypearl, told the court at the end of the trail that Coffey's actions had "been an embarrassment to our town."
Ellis County assistant DA Grace Pandithurai took Burns' disdain one step further when she told the jury, "This man (Coffey) is more than just a pervert — he is a predator. His sheep wool was his status as a police officer.
"He was supposed to protect these 14-year-old girls not prey on them," she continued. "He is a predator in every sense of the word. One picture of kiddy porn is enough. No one should have any. This man gets off on the brazenness of what he does.
"[...] He knows what he is doing, and he is calculated. What he does matches who he is. He is a predator. He is befriending all of these parents to have access to their kids. He didn't help them. He made them worse. A guilty conscience needs no accuser. When you're telling him he is guilty, you are telling him something he already knows."