|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - April 2010
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Corrigan man gets 40 years for injury to a 3-month-old child
Polk County Enterprise
LIVINGSTON - District Judge Elizabeth Coker sentenced Matthew Beauchamp Eppler, to 40 years in prison for injury to a child Tuesday. At a jury trial on Feb. 9, Eppler was found guilty on one count of injury to a child and not guilty of the other. Assistant District Attorney Beverly D. Armstrong and Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon presented evidence during two days of testimony during the trial. On Tuesday, 258th Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Coker sentenced Eppler to 40 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The sentence was pronounced after Coker heard testimony from several witnesses about two prior child abuse charges in Oklahoma that resulted in Eppler serving five years in an Oklahoma prison. In the Polk County case, Colter Eppler was less than 3 months old when he was brought to Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin suffering seizures. Hospital officials decided to fly Colter to Texas Childrens’ Hospital after a CT Scan showed he had bleeding in the brain. Further testing at Texas Childrens’ Hospital showed Colter had swelling in the brain, bleeding in the brain, bleeding behind his eyes and facial bruising. Initially, both parents, Tiffany and Matthew Eppler, were indicted for Colter’s injuries. However, the state believed there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tiffany caused the injuries. Therefore, Count I of the indictment for injury to a child was abandoned as to Tiffany. Count II – Injury to a Child by Omission was charged against both parents for their failure to seek immediate medical attention when advised by Colter’s grandmother that he needed to be taken to the emergency room. The Epplers were in Lufkin at about 9 p.m. but instead of taking Colter to the emergency room, they drove around trying to locate the building where the defendant was scheduled to have a job interview the next day. They then traveled back to Corrigan before returning to Lufkin and arriving at Woodland Heights Medical Center at approximately midnight. Tiffany Eppler pled guilty to count II prior to the defendant’s trial on Feb. 9. The Oklahoma cases involved injuries to Eppler’s 2-month-old son and his girlfriend’s daughter, who was 1 year old at the time. The injuries to the two month old consisted of bruises to his chest, bottom and head. The 1 year old had scratches on her chest and face and numerous bite marks on the left side of her body including her inner thigh, knee and arm. Due to the nature of the charge, Eppler will be required to serve at least half of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole. The District Attorney’s office appreciates the assistance of the witnesses from Oklahoma and thanks the jury for their time and attention to this case.