March 18, 2006

Robert Wayne (Bobby) Coffee

[Robert Wayne (Bobby) Coffee was the son of Albert (Bub) and Ivy Foshee Coffee of Hope, Hempstead Co., AR. He was born May 15, 1954 in Texarkana, Miller Co., AR. He married Darlene Marie Godwin on May 26, 1979 in Hope, AR. They had three children: Marie Lynn, Robert Wayne, Jr., and Sonya. I have never found a final court action report on this case, and do not know if the senior Coffee was found guilty, or released.]

Hope Star Online, July 17, 2003

Coffee to know fate next week

By FRANK ROTH, Hope Star Writer

Circuit Judge Duncan Culpepper that he will render his final decision in the case of a Fulton man accused of murdering his son next Wednesday.

Robert Coffee, Sr., is accussed of murdering his son, Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., of Nashville, by causing him to fall out of a moving vehicle on a highway near Saratoga in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2002.

Eighth Judicial District-North Circuit Judge Duncan Culpepper presided over a probation revocation hearing yesterday in the Hempstead County Courthouse involving Robert Coffee, Sr.

The elder Coffee pleaded guilty to an arson charge on March 28, 2000, and was sentenced to five years of probation. He was arrested on Feb. 15, 2002, on a charge of first degree murder and made his first appearance before Eighth Judicial District-North Judge Jim Gunter.

The murder charge was formalized on April, 1, 2002, with a felony information filed by Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecuting Attorney Randy Wright.

At the time of the elder Coffee's first appearance, Gunter denied bond, but bond was later set at $25,000, and public defender Danny Rodgers was appointed to represent Coffee.

According to Wright the reason for pursuing a probation revocation proceeding before a judge rather than a jury trial is that the level of proof for a probation revocation is different.

"All we have to show is that he violated the law by a preponderance of the evidence, and we certainly believe that he violated the law," Wright said. "In a jury trial you have to prove that he violated the law beyond a reasonable doubt."

Wright said that the elder Coffee could be sentenced to serve not less than five nor more than 20 years if found guilty of his son's death under the terms of his probation.

Judge Culpepper began yesterday's proceedings by agreeing with the attorneys that the normal rules of evidence did not apply during the probation revocation hearing.

Wright began by calling Edith McBride who was the 911 dispatcher on duty the night Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., died. McBride testified that she received a call from Matt Cook at 12:30 a.m. Cook said his mother had seen a body on the side on the highway. McBride said she dispatched Sheriff's Deputy John Pettit, EMS and first responders from Saratoga.

McBride received a second call at 12:35 a.m. from Robert Coffee, Sr., saying that his son had jumped out of the truck.

Wright's next witness was Sheriff's Investigator Frank McJunkins. He testified that he received a call at 12:55 a.m. regarding a body on the side of Highway 355, on the right hand side traveling south.

McJunkins identified a series of photos he took at the scene and later at the funeral home. The photos were entered as exhibits by the prosecutor.
McJunkins told the court that he and Sheriff Jerry Crane went to the elder Coffee's home in Fulton about 3:00 a.m. to question him about what he knew about his son.

"Coffee told us his son jumped out of the truck, and he went on home and went to bed without checking on Bobby (his son)," McJunkins said. "I asked him, 'Did you stop?' 'No.' 'Did you look in the mirror?' 'No.' He said he just went home.

Wright asked, "When you told him his son was dead how did he react?"
McJunkins replied, "He didn't show any concern. He asked, 'Did he get hurt?' I said, 'yes sir, as a matter of fact he's dead. It killed him.' He said, 'Oh hell.' Later he looked at the Sheriff and said, ' Is that true?'"

McJunkins testified that he thought Coffee's statements and his actions didn't match up.

Wright asked, "Would you call this one of those hard to believe stories?"
"Extremely hard to believe," McJunkins replied.

Under cross-examination Defense Attorney Danny Rodgers asked McJunkins, "You determined that Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., had been in a wreck on Feb. 4, 2002."

"Yes sir," McJunkins replied.

"And didn't Robert Coffee, Sr., tell you he and his son had been arguing about this accident, and that his son told him he tried to kill himself in that accident?" Rodgers asked.

"Yes sir," McJunkins replied.

"Did you look at the State Police report of that accident of Feb. 4th?" Rodgers asked.

"No sir," McJunkins replied.

"Were there fingerprints taken from the passenger door during the investigation?" Rodgers asked.

McJunkins replied, "No sir. Both of them had been in and out of the vehicle several times, so both sets of prints would have been there."

Next Wright called Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Paul Kokes of the State Crime Lab. Kokes testified about his external and internal examination of the body of Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr.

Dr. Kokes said that the body showed abrasion on the face, a 3/4 inch laceration on the back of the scalp associated with a skull fracture, and no injuries to the legs and ankles.

Wright asked, "If someone stepped out of a moving vehicle at 50 miles per hour would you expect injuries to the lower legs?"

Kokes replied, "Yes I would. Usually you would expect to see a fractured ankle or leg. There were no injuries to the lower extremities. There were signs of bruising and road rash abrasion on the back."

Wright asked, "Would this be indicative of a person falling out od a vehicle and landing on his back?"

"Yes it is." Kokes replied. "This indicates Mr. Coffee fell out or rolled out striking first his back and then his head on the road."

When Wright asked Dr. Kokes about the cause of death, Kokes replied, "The cause of death was a blunt force injury to the head and brain. The manner of death was homicide."

On cross-examination Rodgers asked, "The reason you classified this as a homicide is that the father didn't stop to render aid, is that right?"
"Yes it is," Kokes replied.

Wright called Sonya Coffee, daughter of Robert Coffee, Sr., and sister of Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr.

She testified that on the night on her brother's death, her father picked her up when she got off work at the Pitt Grill in Hope and took her home to Nashville. When they got to Nashville her father went to her mother's home to pick Wayne up.

Sonya Coffee said, "Wayne whispered to me that he really didn't want to go with my father."

She testified that her father and brother fought all the time.
Wright asked, "Are you scared of your father?"
Sonya replied, "Yes I am."
Wright asked, "Was Wayne scared of your father?"
Sonya replied, "Yes."
After cross-examination by Rodgers, Judge Culpepper asked Sonya, "Did you ever hear your father say he would kill Wayne?"
She replied, "My brother told me he heard my father telling someone that if Wayne didn't straighten up he'd kill him."
Defense Attorney Rodgers put Robert Coffee, Sr., on the stand in his own defense. Coffee gave a rambling story of family problems including he and his son being on medication for mental problems at various times.
On cross-examination Wright asked, "Mr. Coffee, you don't have a violent history, do you?"
"Yes sir, I've had marriage problems," Coffee replied.
Wright, "You got violent with someone you lived with?"
Coffee, "Yes sir."
Wright, Burning a barn when you got mad?"
Coffee, "Yes sir. I wasn't on my medication then."
Judge Duncan Culpepper ruled on one finding yesterday. He found that there was not sufficient evidence for murder in the first degree.

Culpepper told the attorneys, "I will render my final decision on July 23rd at 9:00 a.m. I want to know whether I should consider lesser included offenses, do the facts fit leaving the scene, and whether or not leaving the scene is sufficient for revocation.

Hope Star Online
July 23, 2003

Judge fails to revoke Coffee's probation

By FRANK ROTH, Hope Star Writer

Circuit Judge Duncan Culpepper handed down his final ruling in the Robert Coffee, Sr. probation revocation hearing this morning, saying that the evidence presented did not support revocation of Coffee's probation.

The hearing was held last Wednesday, July 16, in the Hempstead County Courthouse. At that time Judge Culpepper ruled that the evidence presented was not sufficient to support a charge of murder in the first degree.

Judge Culpepper told Prosecutor Randy Wright and Defense Attorney Danny Rodgers last week that he wanted to know three things before he handed down his final decision. First he wanted to know whether he should consider any lesser included offenses. Second, do the facts fit leaving the scene of an accident, and third, is leaving the scene sufficient for revocation of the probation?

Robert Coffee, Sr., of Fulton, had been accused of murdering his son, Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., of Nashville, by causing him to fall out of a moving vehicle on Highway 355 near Saratoga in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2002.

Robert Coffee, Sr. had pleaded guilty to arson on March 28, 2000, and was sentenced to five years probation. He was arrested for first degree murder in connection with the death of his son on Feb. 15, 2002, and Prosecuting Attorney Randy Wright filed the charge of murder in the first degree against Coffee on April, 1, 2002.

Wright chose to pursue a probation revocation hearing in front of a judge before going to a jury trial on the murder charge because the probation revocation carries a different level of proof.

"All we have to show is that he violated the law by a preponderance of the evidence, and we certainly believe he violated the law," Wright said. "In a jury trial you have to prove that he violated the law beyond a reasonable doubt."

This morning Judge Culpepper ruled that murder in the first degree was not proven. He ruled also that no lesser included offenses were proven; and that since leaving the scene of an accident was not alleged by the state, to find Mr. Coffee in violation of leaving the scene would violate his due process.

Coffee was allowed to leave with his probation remaining in effect, and a date was set for his murder trial in Sept.

During last week's hearing, Sheriff's Investigator Frank McJunkins testified about the evidence found at the scene on Highway 355 where the body of Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr. was found, and about his interview of Robert Coffee, Sr. several hours later.

According to McJunkins, the elder Coffee said that he was driving down the highway at 50 miles per hour when his son jumped out of the truck. After his son jumped, Robert Coffee, Sr. drove on home and went to bed without stopping.

Dr. Charles Kokes, the State Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., testified that he ruled the cause of death as a blunt force injury to the head and brain, and the manner of death as a homicide.

Defense Attorney Danny Rodgers asked Dr. Kokes, "The reason you classified this as a homicide is that the father didn't stop to render aid, is that right?"
Dr. Kokes replied, "Yes it is."

Sonya Coffee, sister of Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., testified that her brother didn't want to go with his father that night, that her father and brother fought all the time and that she and her brother were both scared of their father.

Before Sonya Coffee was released as a witness, Judge Culpepper asked her, "Did you ever hear your father say he would kill Wayne?"

Sonya Coffee replied, "My brother told me he heard my father telling someone if Wayne didn't straighten up he'd kill him."

Defense Attorney Rodgers put Robert Coffee, Sr. on the witness stand in his own defense. He gave a rambling account of family problems including both his son and him having mental problems and being place on medication at various times.

On cross-examination Wright asked, "Mr. Coffee, you don't have a violent history, do you?"

Coffee replied, "yes sir. I've had marriage problems."
Wright, "You got violent with someone you lived with?"
Coffee, "Yes sir."
Wright, "Burning a barn when you got mad?"
Coffee, "Yes sir. I wasn't on my medication then."

Judge Culpepper ordered Coffee to appear in court on Sept. 9, 2003, for pre-trial motions and set a trial date of Sept. 22, 2003 for the charge of murder in the first degree.

Robert Wayne (Bobby) COFFEE and Darlene Marie GODWIN were married on May 26, 1979 in Hope, Hempstead Co., AR.2 They were divorced. Darlene Marie GODWIN (daughter of Arlin GODWIN and Marie __________) was born about 1959. Robert Wayne (Bobby) COFFEE and Darlene Marie GODWIN had the following children:

i. Maria Lynn COFFEE was born on April 7, 1980. She died on April 7, 1980. She was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hope, Hempstead Co., AR.
ii. Robert Wayne COFFEE Jr. was born on April 26, 1981 in Shreveport, Caddo Parish, LA. He died on February 9, 2002 in Saratoga, Howard Co., AR.3

Hope, Arkansas "Star"

February 11, 2002

Body discovered near Saratoga

By SUSAN MARGRAVE, Hope Star Writer

The body of a man found near Saratoga early Saturday morning has been sent to the state Crime Lab to determine the cause of death.

Shortly after midnight on Saturday, Hempstead County Deputy John Pettit responded to a 911 call and discovered a white male lying beside Arkansas Highway 355 South, approximately three miles south of Saratoga.

Emergency medical personnel from Pafford Ambulance Service, Hempstead County Sheriff Jerry Crane and Investigator Frankie McJunkins were dispatched to the scene.

A card on the man's body identified him as Robert Wayne Coffee, 20, of 401 South Jones Street at Nashville. Hempstead County Coroner Gary Aaron pronounced Coffee dead at the scene.

Officials sent the body to the state Crime Lab at Little Rock to determine the cause of death.

"This is all the information we have at this time," Chief Deputy James Ross said. "An investigation into the matter is continuing."


From on-line edition of Hope (Arkansas) "Star"

May 28, 2002

Coffee murder trial date set

By KEN McLEMORE, Hope Star Writer

An October trial date has been set for the first degree murder charge lodged here against the father of a Nashville man who apparently died in connection with a fall from a moving vehicle in February.

Robert Wayne Coffee, Sr., of Nashville, has been charged with first degree murder in connection with the Feb. 15 death of his son, Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., 20. Eighth Judicial District-North Circuit Judge Jim Gunter set an Oct. 21 trial date for the elder Coffee during court hearings Wednesday.

Gunter set a pre-trial court date for Coffee on Oct. 7. The judge postponed prosecution of a probation revocation petition filed Feb. 20 by Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecutor Randy Wright in connection with a circuit court conviction of Coffee on a charge of arson.

Robert Coffee, Sr., entered a pleading of guilty Aug. 16, 2000, to a single charge of arson from a March 28, 2000, arrest and was assessed five years probated incarceration, a $1,000 fine, $13,523 restitution, court costs and 50 hours of community service, according to Hempstead County Circuit Court records.

Robert Coffee, Sr., waived formal arraignment and entered a pleading of not guilty to the murder charge in the Wednesday hearing, according to court records. He remains under $25,000 bond.

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory ruled the death of Robert Wayne Coffee, Jr., a homicide after his body was discovered lying alongside Arkansas Highway 355 South about three miles south of Saratoga.


Hope, Arkansas "Star"

Feb. 13, 2002

Robert Coffee

NASHVILLE -- Robert Wayne Coffee, 20, died Saturday, February 9, in Saratoga.

Mr. Coffee was born April 26, 1981, in Shreveport, La. He was a general laborer.

Survivors include his parents, Robert W. "Bobby" Coffee, of Fulton, and Darlene Willis, of Nashville; one sister, Sonya Coffee, of Nashville; and his maternal grandparents, Arlin and Marie Godwin, of Prescott. Graveside services will be Thursday, February 14, at 2 p.m., in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hope, with Mr. Lynn Vanderveer and Mr. Jimmy Joe Aiken officiating. Arrangements are with Brazzel/Oakcrest Funeral Home, Hope.

Visitation will be February 13, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the funeral home.
He was buried on February 14, 2002 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hope, Hempstead Co., AR.


iii. Sonya COFFEE was born on March 18, 1984 in Arkansas.


Sources

1. Velma Foshee, Foshee Research by Mrs. Velma Foshee (dec'd) (Her work has been reproduced on the internet).
2. County/Parish Marriage Book. 21, p207 Robert Wayne Coffee, age 25 of Hempstead Co., to Darlene Marie Godwin, age 20, 26 May 1979.
3. From newspapers and/or on-line sources, Obituary.

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