Jurors find man guilty of abusing child
A Russellville man accused of shaking his stepson to stop him from crying in 2010 was found guilty on child abuse charges on Thursday.
Thomas Reece Coalson II, 28, 1210 Cave Hollow Road, Russellville, was found guilty of child abuse by a Franklin County jury after almost a two-hour deliberation, Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said.
According to Rushing, Coalson was married to the child’s mother at the time of the incident in July 2010.
Rushing said the mother testified that she walked into the living room of her mobile home located in the Freddy Mills Trailer Park and saw Coalson holding her 20-month-old son up in the air by putting one had over the child’s mouth and the other hand on the back of the child’s head. She said he then started shaking the child to stop him from crying.
“She told him right then to get out of her home,” Rushing said.
He said she did not report the incident to the Franklin County Department of Human Resources but they received an anonymous call about the incident three days later and opened the investigation.
Rushing said reports showed the child was taken to the hospital and records reflected the child had a three-day old bruise on his neck that he allegedly sustained during the incident.
During the trial, however, defense attorney Rebecca Green Thomason contended Coalson didn’t do all the things he was accused of doing.
Thomason said Coalson admitted he covered the child’s mouth to keep him from screaming, but he didn’t do anything to constitute the child abuse charge.
“When Mr. Coalson was first interviewed about this incident in 2010, he admitted to the allegations in the presence of the DHR worker and to Inv. Greg Pinkard but he later changed his story,” Rushing said. “I really believe the eyewitness testimony and Mr. Coalson’s inconsistent story were the determining factors in this case.”
Rushing said he appreciated the jury’s time in what was no doubt a hard decision for them to make.
“I know it can be hard when there are two different versions for a jury to come to a decision,” he said. “I feel that, in this case, when a step-parent cannot control their anger and injures the child in the process, that person deserves to be charged with child abuse and I’m glad the jury agreed.”
Rushing said Coalson would be set for sentencing on Jan. 24. He faces one to 10 years in prison for the child abuse charge.