Defendant in Child Murder Case Chooses Bench Trial, Waives Jury

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Brian Coulter, the defendant charged with capital murder in the death of Kendrick Lee, has waived his right to a jury trial. Coulter’s lawyers made this announcement on Wednesday, revealing that the trial, originally scheduled for February, will now proceed as a bench trial. The decision means that Judge Kelli Johnson will hear the evidence and determine the verdict and punishment.

Coulter’s appearance in the 178th District Court showcased his distinctive yellow jumpsuit and long hair, longer than when he was arrested. It is uncommon for cases of this nature to go to a bench trial, according to both the defense and prosecution.

Jimmy Ortiz, one of Coulter’s defense attorneys, stated that it was his client’s choice to proceed with a bench trial. James Stafford, another defense attorney, emphasized that capital murder cases usually go before a jury, which takes longer than a bench trial. He estimated that the bench trial will last “five days tops.”

The charges against Coulter stem from the discovery of Kendrick Lee’s body in a Houston apartment where his three siblings were abandoned and forced to fend for themselves. The siblings, ages 7, 10, and 15 at the time, were found living alone in a third-floor unit. The eldest child eventually called the police, who found the child’s body in a closet. The power had been out in the apartment for three weeks by the time police arrived.

During the investigation, it was revealed that Coulter had often beaten his younger brothers, two of whom had special needs. The eldest child witnessed the fatal beating of Kendrick and reported that Coulter covered his body with a blanket.

Gloria Williams, the children’s mother, was implicated in the case as well. She and Coulter had left the children to live elsewhere. Williams disclosed to investigators that she did not report the death, as Coulter instructed her not to. She also expressed fears that Child Protective Services would take away her children, leading to her incarceration. Williams is currently in jail facing charges of tampering with evidence and causing injury to a child through omission.

The trial for Gloria Williams is also scheduled for February. She remains at the Harris County Jail.

The tragedy of Kendrick Lee’s death and the abandonment of his siblings have shocked the community. A mural dedicated to Kendrick now stands as a solemn reminder of the alleged brutality and neglect that occurred in that Houston apartment.

In conclusion, Brian Coulter has chosen to forego a jury trial in the capital murder case against him. Instead, Judge Kelli Johnson will preside over a bench trial in February to determine Coulter’s guilt and punishment. This decision is unusual for a case of this nature, and the trial is expected to last no more than five days. Coulter’s alleged involvement in the death of Kendrick Lee and the abandonment of his siblings has cast a dark shadow over the Houston community, prompting reflections on the importance of child welfare and protection.