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February 22, 2013

Copeland receives prison sentence in child abuse case

GREENVILLE — Trevor Scott Copeland of Quinlan was sentenced to prison Thursday, for severely injuring a 2 year-old girl in December 2011.

A jury in the 196th District Court, who the day before had found Copeland guilty of the charge of injury to a child by an act causing serious bodily injury, deliberated about two hours before returning with a sentence of 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division.

Copeland  was facing a sentence of up to life in prison, although Assistant District Attorney Calvin Grogan didn’t ask the jurors for the maximum sentence. Instead he asked them to consider their feelings about child abuse and send a message.

“That little girl fought for her life for four days in the ICU,” Grogan said. “He sat there and let that girl almost die.”

Cindy Hames, the victim’s grandmother who is now caring for the child, said she had suffered nightmares for months after the incident.

“She’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming and crying,” Hames said. “This was every night and it was awful.”

But Hames said the girl, now 3, who attended a portion of Thursday’s hearing, is doing much better.

“She’s very smart,” Hames said. “She’s happy. She loves to play. She loves to pretend. She’s a handful.”

The second defendant charged in the case, Erin Elizabeth Saari of West Tawakoni, the victim’s mother, gave up custody of the child and agreed to a plea bargain arrangement in exchange for her testifying against Copeland. Saari will receive a sentence of two years in a state jail.

Saari and Copeland were arrested on Dec. 14, 2011.

Investigators with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office became involved with the case after receiving a Dec. 7, 2011 call from the Hunt Regional Medical Center.

The child’s injuries were initially reported as being received after falling out of a first floor residential window.

Saari reported the fall occurred sometime during the overnight hours, although Sheriff Randy Meeks said upon initial observations, the child was found to have bruising to her forehead, both sides of the head, the neck, chest, abdomen, both arms and both legs.

The jury also heard Thursday from several of Copeland’s family members; including his mother, Kim Hester Copeland Faubion, who said while her son was energetic and loved to play music and sports, he also had problems at school.

“A lot of the teachers didn’t like him,” Faubion said, noting that the defendant suffered from ADHD and dropped out after completing his sophomore year. “Because of all the things that were going on and he didn’t want to mess with it.”

Faubion said Copeland was a runaway and rebelled against authority, he also saved her life once by performing CPR. Faubion joined the other family members in testifying that Copeland was a loving father to his own two children, often playing with them, taking them fishing or helping with their homework.

“Everything that a good dad should do,” Faubion said.

Copeland initially agreed to testify during the punishment hearing, then later reconsidered and did not take the witness stand.

Defense attorney Chris Castanon asked the jury to consider leniency for his client.

“This is a young man,” Castanon said. “Don’t throw his life away.”

After the hearing, Castanon said it was a hard case to try.

“It is just not a good situation, when you’ve got two young people and a baby,” Castanon said. “Thank God the baby is OK.’

Copeland, 25, will have to spend at least half of the sentence, or 25 years, in prison before he can be considered eligible for parole.

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