Livingston, Texas, March 29, 2010: Matthew Eppler (left) speaks with his attorney in Judge Coker's Court. Eppler is a convicted child abuser.
Judge Coker Hands Down 40 Year Prison Sentence to Child Abuser, LIVINGSTON, March 29, 2010 - On February 9, 2010, Beverly D. Armstrong, Assistant District Attorney and Lee Hon, Criminal District Attorney for Polk County presented evidence against Matthew Beauchamp Eppler, who was indicted for two counts of Injury to a Child. Following two days of testimony, the jury found Eppler not guilty of the one count and guilty of the other.
On March 29, 2010, 258th Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Coker sentenced Eppler to 40 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Judge Coker issued the sentence after hearing testimony from several witnesses regarding two prior Child Abuse charges in Oklahoma. The defendant served 5 years in an Oklahoma penitentiary on those charges.
The victim, Colter Eppler, was less than 3 months old when he was presented to Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin, Texas with seizures. Colter was life-flighted 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.
Matthew Eppler is led out of court following his conviction and punishment phase on March 29, 2010.
Initially, both parents, Tiffany and Matthew Eppler, were indicted for the injuries sustained by Colter. 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 approximately 9:00 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 12:00 am.
Tiffany Eppler pled guilty to count II prior to the defendant’s trial on February 9, 2010.
The beating that Eppler put on a 2 month old baby left the infant with severely damaged vision and hearing. The child has multiple other physical development problems as a result of the severe head trama.
The Oklahoma cases involved injuries to Eppler’s 2 months 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.
Matthew Beauchamp Eppler will have to serve at least 20 years of his 40 years sentence before he can be eligible for parole.
Matthew Beauchamp Eppler (Implications of Child Abuse)
According to FBI Special Agent Robert Buzzard, in June of 2001, while in the care of Matthew Eppler, a child sustained bruises to the head, cheeks, back, and legs. The child also had scratch marks and bite marks. Despite Eppler's denials, forensic evidence proved that Eppler did in fact bite the child, then he admitted guilt. Eppler was sentenced to 5 years in an Oklahoma prison.
Thomas Comstock, Stillwater Oklahoma Police Department responded to the 2001 call that reported possible child abuse. Comstock stated that Eppler claimed the child fell off the porch, was scratched by a dog. Eppler later confessed to abusing the child.
Glenda Smith, Grandmother of child that was abused in 2001: According to Smith, she visited Eppler's residence and checked on the kids, and stated that the kids were laying on their bed in their bedroom and wouldn't move because they were scared. Smith noted that her granddaughter had bite marks and that the kids were in the grip of fear. She took the kids from the residence and went to Stillwater Police. When asked to point out Eppler in the court room, Smith pointed out Matthew Eppler and fought back tears. Throughout Smith's testimony, her voice was trembling as she recounted the abuse that her grandchildren suffered.
According to David Grussing, Stillwater Oklahoma Police Department: In 2000, Matthew Eppler abused his own infant son (the child was only 2 months old). Grussing stated that the child had bruises but Eppler blamed it on a chiwowa (small dog), and also said that the bruises were there because he (Matthew Eppler) was trying to burp the child. Eppler was alone in the mobile home with the child when the abuse occurred. Eppler was charged with injury to a child.
Tiffany Eppler (wife of Matthew Eppler): Tiffany Eppler stated that during dating period, Matthew was always nice and she saw no problems. Three weeks after they were married she stated that he began to show anger and violence. She stated that it started with verbal abuse and belittling her over things like cooking. Tiffany recounted how Matthew grabbed her by the hair and threw her across the floor. Another time she said that while she was pregnant, he slammed her against a truck and slapped her, and that he cheated on her throughout their marriage.
In his closing argument, Polk County Criminal District Attorney William Lee Hon stated that Matthew Eppler is a serial child abuser and that Eppler has major anger management issues. Hon also pointed out that Tiffany Eppler exhibited a classic case of spousal abuse syndrome. In a final statement, Hon implored Judge Coker that, "If we don't do anything else in this courtroom, let it never be said that we don't protect our kids".
Following the closing arguments from both sides, Judge Coker promptly sentenced Matthew Eppler to 40 years confinement in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (prison).
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