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Child abuse case sent to grand jury

A judge on Friday ruled that the state had probable cause to prosecute a Calhoun County man charged in April with abusing an autistic child. 

Calhoun County District Judge Randy Moeller sent the child abuse case of Ty Atrau Coakachee, 27, to a grand jury for review.

Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies charged Coakachee on April 30 with child abuse.

Calhoun-Cleburne Major Crimes Unit investigator Jay Harrington testified that staff at the 5-year-old child’s school called authorities after they noticed a bruise on her face and a cut on the inside of her cheek.

When the girl was interviewed at the Calhoun Cleburne Children’s Advocacy Center, Harrington said, the girl said Coakachee had caused her injuries. Harrington said an interviewer told the girl to act out what happened on a doll, and she hit it in the face and stuck a finger in its mouth, bent the finger and pulled it out.

Harrington said he recently spoke to the girl’s mother, who told him she had since the alleged event moved out of state with the girl and given custody of her to a relative.

Harrington said school staff filed a previous report in September after they observed what appeared to be pinched skin on the girl’s body. No charges stemmed from that report, he said.

Coakachee’s attorney, Michael Askew, declined to comment after the hearing.

Child abuse is a Class C felony, punishable by up to a decade in prison and up to a $15,000 fine upon conviction.

Contact Staff Writer Mia Kortright at 256-235-3563.