Judge: Apt. where children allegedly beaten a "house of horror" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Judge: Apt. where children allegedly beaten a "house of horror"


(WRCB) – Calling the victims' apartment a 'house of horrors,' a Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge has sent to a grand jury charges of murder, attempted murder and child abuse against Patricia Brewer and her former live-in boyfriend Kenneth Coleman.

Brewer's 4-year-old son Tyreke Evans was pronounced dead December 19, after she and Coleman took him and his 3-year-old Donamiche to Children's Hospital. Donamiche would spend at least four days in intensive care, under the protective custody of Tennessee's Department of Children's Services, before his release to family members, as yet unidentified.

In the couple's preliminary hearing Tuesday, Chattanooga Det. Jay Montgomery testified that Coleman and Brewer first claimed Tyreke had fallen down the stairs, but that Brewer had caught him mid-fall.

Coleman later admitted to striking the boys with a belt, and Brewer later claimed that she hadn't been at home when the boys were injured, at least five hours before they were brought to the hospital, Det. Montgomery testified.

"Our position has always been that Miss Brewer is more involved in this incident that she's been willing to acknowledge," Coleman's attorney Bill Speek says.

Det. Montgomery reiterated to prosecutors and defense attorneys that Brewer changed her account of the incidents after she was taken into custody, handcuffed, read her rights, and informed that a homicide investigation was underway.

"In her interviews, in her writings, she is likely doing anything she can to put Mr. Coleman in jail," Speek tells reporters following the hearing.

Should the grand jury return indictments, Speek adds, he will file motions for separate trials.

Under direct questioning, Det. Montgomery confirms that Tennessee's Department of Children's Services began looking into the boys' welfare November 14, following a complaint that Brewer had been neglecting their care and that illegal drugs were used in their presence.

DCS received a subsequent complaint December 8 that the boys were suffering from dehydration, under Coleman's care.

Citing Tennessee's privacy laws, Judge David Bales declined to allow Montgomery, prosecutors or defense attorneys to reveal who made the complaints, or how DCS caseworkers had addressed them in the days prior to Tyreke's death. A DCS caseworker had been sworn in as a possible witness prior to the hearing, but was not called to testify.

"I believe some of the DCS information could be exculpatory," Speek says. "If they (the facts) are, then we'll eventually get them."

"If they were bad, we'd already have them."

The Hamilton County Medical Examiner's preliminary report cites 'multiple blunt force trauma' as the cause of Tyreke's death. It indicates brain swelling, lacerations to the liver and kidneys, cracked ribs and numerous bruises. Some scars and discolorations indicate some injuries were old enough to have started healing.

Under cross-examination by Speek, Det. Montgomery conceded he hasn't yet sought clarification, as to when those previous injuries might have been inflicted. Speek confirms that information will be critical to his Coleman's defense.

"My client's only known her (Brewer) since October," Speek says. "And within 60 days this child (Tyreke) is significantly hurt."

"But his injuries, we expect, to be pre-existing to his relationship with her."

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