Charges reduced against brothers in standoff; solution sought for release
Public defender Kieran Comer helps James Wesley Coffman through Wednesday's hearing in Boyle District Court. Judge Jeff Dotson is at left. (Todd Kleffmanfirstname.lastname@example.org. / March 13, 2013)
Campbell said he reduced the wanton endangerment charges from first degree to second degree after consulting with two officers who were among those threatened when Eugene Coffman allegedly brandished a pistol on multiple occasions during a six-hour standoff with police at the brothers’ home on Catholic Knob on Feb. 28.
Campbell, however, argued against releasing each of the brothers, described as low-functioning adults, on a low bond or on their own recognizance. Boyle District Judge Jeff Dotson agreed, setting bonds for both men at $4,000 cash. They were returned to the Boyle County Detention Center after the hearing.
Campbell and public defender Kieran Comer, who represents the Coffmans, said they are not aware of any family members or others who have come forward to express interest in posting bond or caring for the men if they are released.
“They’re still charged with violent offenses,” Campbell said afterward. “I’m not sure they have a home available to them, and I don’t want them out there just wandering around.”
The standoff began the morning of Feb. 28 when three social workers went to the Coffmans’ home on Forkland Road for a welfare check but were chased away when Eugene Coffman allegedly pulled a handgun on them. Inside the rented home, a non-working toilet overflowing with feces and urine was among the unsanitary conditions discovered, court records state.
Eugene Coffman also allegedly waved the gun at Boyle County deputies who responded and then again at members of a Kentucky State Police special response team. The brothers refused police orders to leave the residence as a small army of officers gathered. Police finally used an armored personnel carrier to approach the house and launch pepper gas inside, forcing the brothers to evacuate.
A confidential hearing related to the case was held earlier Wednesday, but both Campbell and Comer said they could not discuss anything about the closed session.
Comer said afterward it is too soon to say how the cases against the Coffmans might play out. Their next court appearance is a pretrial conference scheduled for March 27.
“The best outcome would be something where they are safe and the public is safe, where there are safeguards in place and someone to take care of them,” the defense attorney said. “I don’t believe they belong in jail.”