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The Rex Coffey murder: Wellie Paul Grant denied bond
TRIAL DATE SET FOR WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2007
Security tight as accused moved from ACRJ to courtroom. DetectiveBobby Sullivan gives account of night of murder, of flight, ofintensive manhunt, and the Sunday morning capture when Wellie PaulGrant found, holding gun, and did not surrender until third officer,SGT Ken Hill, joined Sullivan and Trooper Jamie Richard; Larry Antletestifies he was told by Grant, back in April, 2006, that if he wantedto live any longer, he'd get off road; Garvis Grant testifies thatWellie Paul Grant, within past year, had grabbed him by the shirtcollar and ordered him to come outside Glens Fork Store. No witnessescalled by Defense Attorney Robert Bertram for Wellie Paul Grant.Judge Weddle agrees with Commonwealth Attorney Brian Wright's argumentthat Grant presents a flight risk, that he presents a threat toothers, and that there is a great presumption of guilt. Judge Weddlesets trial date for January 17, 2007
By Ed Waggener
The man accused of the June 10, 2006 shooting of popular Columbia andGlens Fork businessman Rex Coffey, and of his murder after Coffey diedon June 11, 2006, will remain in the Adair County Regional Jail, wherehe has been since his capture on Sunday morning, June 11,2006.
Wellie Paul Grant was denied bond, much less a lower bond, by AdairCircuit Court Judge James Weddle in the hearing requested by Grant'sattorney, Robert Bertram of Jamestown.
Judge Weddle set the trial date to begin Wednesday, January 17, 2007.
The hearing was conducted Friday, September 29, 2006, with some ofthe most stringent security measures ever in AdairCounty.
All visitors to the courtroom gallery were required to be scanned bythe wand operated by Adair County Deputy Sheriff Richard Redmon beforeentering the courtroom. State Trooper B.J. Burton was guarding theentry, and Columbia Police Chief Mark Harris and Assistant Chief TerryFlatt gave additional protection.
When Wellie Paul Grant was moved from the Adair County Regional Jailto the courthouse, he was shackled and handcuffed, placed in SheriffSteve Cheatham's prowler in the ACRJ sallyport, and moved slowly southon Greensburg to the Jamestown Street courthouse entrance.
Sheriff Cheatham moved Grant from the prowler to the courthouseelevator, then went to the second floor, where the elevator opens onlyfive or six yards to the courtroom entry. CPD Major Terry Flattguarded the transfer from the prowler to the upstairs courtroom.
Courtroom was near capacity
Most of the courtroom was packed with members of the Coffey family.Coffey's widow, Tammy Harper Coffey, her mother, and her privatelawyer were present.
The frail, bespectacled Grant betrayed little emotion as he sat atthe defendant's table with Attorney Bertram.
No witnesses called for Wellie Paul Grant
Attorney Bertram chose not to call any witnesses on behalf of Grant,and Grant himself did not take the stand. Bertram said that his clienthad never been in trouble before. He argued that Mr. Grant did notpresent a a threat of flight or a threat to others. He argued thatGrant should be freed so that he could be more readily available towork on his on defense.
However, Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright's argument that thewitnesses, KSP Detective Bobby Sullivan, Beech Grove Deacon andTrustee Larry Antle, and Garvice Grant, also a Deacon and Trustee inthe Church, showed that 1) Grant was a flight risk, 2) that he posed athreat to others, and 3) that presumption of guilt in the case wasgreat.
Detective Sullivan gives riveting testimoney about night of shooting
Detective Bobby Sullivan, a 22 year veteran of the Kentucky StatePolice, gave riveting testimony about the events of the June 10, 2006.Some of his testimony was secondhand, or hearsay evidence, which wasobjected to by Attorney Bertram. Mr. Bertram was overruled by JudgeWeddle, who said that hearsay evidence is admissible in a bondhearing. "The same rules of evidence don't apply as apply in a trial,"he said.
Sullivan recounted events of June 10 and June 11. He said that he wasnotified with a call at about 10:30pm that someone had been shot and when he called Westlake Hospital and a paramedic told him that the victim was Rex Coffey. He said he worked the case with Detective Atwood andDetective Kevin Payne.
He recalled talking to Bro. Matt Cowan, pastor of the Beech GroveBaptist Church and information from the victim's wife. They told howevents occurred the night of the tragedy..
Sullivan said the pastor said that he and Rex and Tammy Coffey were at the picnic table when a truck pulled into the parking lotwith the lights on bright. He said that a man recognized as WelliePaul Grant yelled, "What the Hell is going on here? It's pastmidnight."
Sullivan said that Bro. Cowan said that Rex answered, "Surely it's notthat late." Sullivan said Cowan said that the distance from RexCoffey to Wellie Paul Grant was 10-12 feet, maximum, when Grant shot Rex Coffey..
Sullivan said that he learned Grant had fled to "Back to what is known as the SandLick area.
Sullivan said that Adair County Sheriff Tommy Corbin had pursuedWellie Paul Grant up a branch. Sullivan said that Corbin said thatGrant abandoned his truck. He said that Deputy Corbin was not able totake Grant into custody.
The detective said that a search effort which included officers on theground, a dog team, and helicopters continued a search into the nextmorning, but was called off the next morning, Sunday, June 11, 2006,sometime around 8:30 to 9:00am CT. Detective Sullivan said that theSand Lick area is a very remote area of several hundred woodedacres.
A break in the search came when someone flagged down Trooper JamieRichard on Sunday morning, June 11, 2006, and told him he had seen a man with a gun who might be theman they wamted.
Detective Sullivan said Trooper Richard went to the place where he wasdirected and got on the ground. "Paul had a rifle. He was juststanding there." Sullivan said he was the next to arrive. He said hecalled out to Grant, whom he said he had know for many years, "Paul,this is Bobby. Put down the gun. This is Bobby." He said that Grantdidn't offer to put down the gun or surrender. But when SGT Ken Hillcame onto the scene, he called out to Grant, "Paul, this is Ken,"and Grant surrendered.
Detective Sullivan recalls KSP interview with Grant after Grant'scapture
Sullivan said that Wellie Paul Grant told him that he had walked the distance from SandLick, where he abandoned his truck, to the place of his capture,( nearBeech Grove Church and the Buell Collins Road.) He was asked why hehadn't taken a light with him, Sullivan said, and Grant answered thathe didn't want to be seen (by Deputy Corbin). "He said he was tryingto avoid us," Sullivan said.
The interview of Wellie Paul Grant took place at the Kentucky StatePolice Post in Columbia. Sullivan said that Grant was worn down anddehydrated, and that Detective Atwood conducted the interview.Detective Sullivan was asked if he though Grant was coherent at thetime. Sullivan answered, "Yes, he was coherent, butexhausted."
Sullivan said that Grant gave his side of the controversy over thechurch property. Sullivan said Grant said he was asleep and was awakened by the churchpeople at the picnic shelter. He said Grant said he went down to theshelter to ask the people to leave. Sullivan said that Grant said thatRex Coffey told him he didn't have to leave.
Sullivan said that Grant said that he had only meant to "glance him(Rex Coffey)." Sullivan said Grant said he thought he had shot RexCoffey in the chin. He said that Grant at first maintained that thegun had gone off accidentally, then said that he only want to glancehim.
Commonwealth Attorney Brian Wright showed Sullivan an aerialphotograph of the KY 900 section around Beech Grove Road and heidentified the Beech Grove Separate Baptist Church, the home of WelliePaul Grant, and the homes of Garvis Grant and Larry Antle.
Bertram questions Detective Sullivan
Defense Attorney Robert Bertram questioned Detective Sullivan aboutWellie Paul Grant, asking the dectective if he had ever heard ofWellie Paul Grant being in any trouble before, if he had had so muchas a parking or speeding ticket, if he'd found any criminal record;Detective Sullivan said had not.
Larry Antle testified that he was told he'd better leave disputedroad if he wanted to live any longer
Commonweatlth's Attorney Wright called Larry Antle as the secondwitness. Antle testified that he is a Beech Grove SBIC deacon andtrustee. He said that he had had trouble before with Wellie Paul Grant. Hetestified about the disputed land. He said that the land,including that on which the picnic shelter was built, had been givento the church by Garvis Grant. Grant testified that the land had oncebeen the site of a school (the old Simpson School) and that the land was neverdeeded to the school board and that when the school was no longerthere, the land remained his.
Antle said that the church had researched the ownership and had theland surveyed by Mike McKinney.
Antle's most devasting testimony came when he told of an encounter hehad on April 13 of this year. "I started to go into the church by thedrive (between the church and the Wellie Paul Grant residence). Hesaid he was met by Wellie Paul Grant, Grant's wife, and daughterMargaret Huddleston, who confronted him. and Grant said that Antletold him, "If I wanted to live any longer, I'd better get out ofhere."
Larry Antle testified that he went to Adair County Attorney JenniferHutchinson-Corbin , who, he said, sent a letter to Wellie Paul Grant.
Garvis Grant testifies on ownership of the land
The last to testify, Garvis Grant, testified on the ownership of theland, particularly the land on which the picnic shelter is located. Hetestified that the church owns it. When asked how he knew that, hesaid, "I give it to them"!
Garvis Grant tells of encounter with Wellie Paul Grant at store
Garvis Grant was asked if had any problems with Wellie Paul Grant.While he was unable to immediately pinpoint the date, he said that inthe past year, he went in the Glens Fork store, and, he said, "He(Wellie Paul Grant) grabbed me by the shirt collar," and said WeliePaul Grant asked him what he meant taking land from his daughter. "Hewanted to fight me," Garvis Grant testified, and added that WelliePaul Grant ordered him to go out of the store. Garvis didn't go.Garvis Grant said that Wellie Paul Grant is his first cousin. "He usedto tend my tobacco," he said.
Garvis Grant was the last to tesfify.
Attorney Bertram says shooting may have been accidental
Wellie Paul Grant's attorney Robert Bertram did not call any witness.In his argument for a reduced bond, he said that the shooting may havebeen accidental, and said, "There's nothing to indicate that he wouldnot show up." He added that if Wellie Grant Grant were freed on areasonable bond, he would be able to help the defense prepare for thetrial.
Commonwealth Attorney says "No question of guilt"
But Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright said, "There is no questionthat he shot Rex Coffey," and added, there is no question of hisguilt.
He said that there is a risk of flight, and noted the lengthy searchrequired to capture Wellie Paul Grant, and recalled that Grant fled toa secluded area, and left a light behind in his truck because, "Hewanted to elude police. He evaded them several times," and, he said,"he was still holding the weapon" when confronted on Sunday morning,June 11, 2006.
Wright said that if Wellie Paul Grant were released on bond, therewould be personal risk to Larry Antle and Garvis Grant.
"We don't think that he should be released," he said said.
Judge Weddle agrees with Commonwealth
Judge Weddle ruled in agreement with the Commonwealth. He said thatthe indictment against Wellie Paul Grant is for murder. "Every murderis a capital offense," he said. He said that the presumption of guiltin the case is great, that there was a risk of flight, and that WelliePaul Grant could present a risk for others, if released onbond.
"Bond will be denied," he said.Judge Weddle suggested a trial date starting between Christmas and NewYear's, but the earliest date which could be agreed to was Wednesday,January 17, 2007.
This story was posted on 2006-10-02 15:44:32
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