Klapheke Trial: Jury Delivers Sentence

By BCHP News

Published 01/24 2014 11:30AM

Updated 02/13 2014 10:08PM

Klapheke Trial: Punishment Phase

9:54 p.m. Update: Jury Delivers Sentence

The jury has delivered Tiffany Klapheke’s punishment.

She has been sentenced to 30 years with no fine. She will be eligible for parole when half of her sentence is over.

9:44 p.m. Update: Jury Makes Decision

The jury has made a decision and is back in the courtroom.

However, the judge asked earlier that the two alternate jury members be present when the sentence is read, so the announcement may not be made until after they arrive back at the courthouse. They had been sent home earlier during deliberations.

We will post the sentence as soon as it is read which may be dependent upon whether they decide to wait on the alternates.

2:55 p.m. Update: Jury Deliberating Punishment

Before the jury began deliberations, they finished hearing closing arguments from the prosecution and defense.

Defense attorney John Young told the jury that though they could not excuse what happened on August 28 of 2012, they could explain it.

Young reminded the jury that Klapheke never had a real childhood. She was never able to look up at anyone and smile.

Attorney George Parnham said like Tamryn, Tiffany Klapheke also never had a chance. He said he was pleading for Tiffany Klapheke’s life and asked the jury to look at the whole picture and remember that many people played a role in what happened to Tamryn.

The defense placed blame on CPS for not doing more to prevent Tamrn's death, and raised the question of why Thomas Klapheke hadn't been charged with anything.

In response, prosecuting attorney Joel Wilks reminded the jury that the real victim was Tamryn, not Tiffany. That Tamryn was not loved and someone had to be held accountable for her treatment, regardless of Klapheke's past. He said if this was not a life case, he didn’t know what was, and reminded the jury that even with a life sentence, Tiffany would still be eligible for parole after 30 years.

Klapheke was escorted out of the courtroom crying as she awaits the jury.

The jury now has it.

11:43 a.m. Update: Jury to Begin Deliberations

The last witnesses have been called and the jury will begin deliberating Thursday afternoon after closing arguments.

The defense called psychologist Dr. Brinkman back to the stand who kept his testimony short, only emphasizing that he felt Tiffany Klapheke needed therapy.

A person from the probation department then took the stand to explain probation to the jury. If Klapheke gets a sentence of less than 10 years, she may be eligible for probation.

11:24 a.m. Update: Thomas Klapheke's Mother Called to Stand

The prosecution called Thomas Klapheke’s mother, Kathy Boorman, to the stand Thursday morning.

Tatum and Taberlee have been staying with her and she reported that the children are progressing well.

Boorman says that Tatum, who is now two, has caught up developmentally and is now doing everything 2-year-olds normally do.

Taberlee, the oldest, still remembers her sister Tamryn and prays for her. She still says "Sissy," when shown photos of Tamryn. Boorman says Taberlee still suffers from episodes of screaming and shaking, but has been placed in daycare to help her develop social skills.

She also says Taberlee drinks juice all at once when it is given to her as if she will not receive any more, but they are trying to assure her she will not be in want ever again. They have also been working on Taberlee’s motor skills which had been stunted due to her treatment, and she can now hold a crayon.

10:16 a.m. Update: Punishment Phase About to Begin

The punishment phase in the Tiffany Klapheke trial is about to begin.

Klapheke was found guilty Wednesday of causing intentional injury to her child which resulted in her death (Injury to a Child by Omission Intentionally and Willingly). This is a 1st degree felony and does not allow for the consideration of Klapheke's psychological history as a part of determining punishment. 

Klapheke faces anywhere from five years, to 99 to life.

Klapheke Trial: Day 13

7:16 Update: Klapheke Found Guilty

The jury has finished deliberating and has delivered the verdict.

Tiffany Klapheke has been found guilty of injury to a child by omission intentionally and knowingly. This means the jury will not consider Klapheke’s mental state during the sentencing phase of the trial.

The punishment phase of the trial will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday. 

7:10 p.m. Update: Jury Bringing in Verdict

The jury is coming into the courtroom with the verdict.

6:43 p.m. Update: Jury Asks for Definition of Reasonable Doubt

Tiffany Klapheke was brought back into the courtroom as the jury submitted a note asking for clarification of the legal definition of "reasonable doubt."

The jury also wanted to know the punishment range for the lesser charge of injury to a child by omission recklessly.

The judge responded that he could not legally answer those questions and referred the jury to the charge document.

1:09 p.m. Update: Case Goes to the Jury

Closing arguments have ended and the jury will now determine the guilt or innocence of Tiffany Klapheke based on the charges read earlier Wednesday morning.

After George Parnham finished closing arguments for the defense, prosecuting attorney Joel Wilks told the jury that despite Klapheke's past, someone had to be held accountable for what happened to Tamryn. 

Wilks reminded the jury that Tamryn was the only child with Harris lines in her bones, meaning she had been starved numerous times in her life, not just during this one instance, thus suggesting Klapheke had done this before.

He also argued that evidence proves Tamryn was targeted to some degree as the three children were treated differently, and since it is not possible for someone to pick and choose what to disassociate from, Klapheke's could not be blamed on something like reactive attachment disorder.

According to Wilks, when found on August 28, 2012, though also suffering from chemical burns, Taberlee had been fed and had more to drink than the other two siblings.

Tatum's diaper had been changed more often, even though she did not get as much nourishment at Taberlee.

Tamryn, however, got the worst treatment of all, and died as a result.

It was also suggested that Klapheke was jealous of her children.

Finally, Wilks held up pictures of Tiffany Klapheke when she was a little girl and said, yes, she was abused, but she got something Tamryn did not, a life and a chance to come out of her situation.

Wilks told the jury they had all the evidence shown available to them and encouraged them to listen to the rest of the 911 tape. 

11:35 a.m. Update: Jury Read Possible Charges, Attorneys Finishing Closing Arguments

Closing arguments are still underway and should continue until around noon.

Prosecuting attorney Joel Wilks explained the two possible charges to the jury Wednesday morning, and these are: injury to a child by omission recklessly, or injury to a child by omission intentionally and knowingly.

The first charge would allow the jury to consider Klapheke’s mental health, meaning her neglect of the children was reckless, but not necessarily intentional. This also carries a lesser sentence.

The second charge, intentionally and knowingly, is a first degree felony and would not allow the jury to consider Klapheke’s mental health and carries a stronger possible sentence. This charge suggests Klapheke was fully knowledgeable and accountable for her actions.

So far, the defense has argued Thomas Klapheke did not make proper preparations for his family, and has stressed Tiffany Klapheke's abusive childhood, saying "you learn to parent from your own parents."

Defense Attorney George Parnham is now finishing his closing argument, and will be followed up by Wilks before the case is given to the jury.

9:09 a.m. Update: Closing Arguments to Begin

Wednesday marks day 13 in the trial of Tiffany Klapheke, and closing arguments will soon begin.

The defense rested Tuesday, and the prosecution finished calling all rebuttal witnesses after turning down a mistrial request from Defense Attorney George Parnham.

The judge is still finalizing the charge that will be read to the jury and will determine their deliberations regarding Klapheke's guilt or innocence.

Klapheke Trial: Day 12

1:12 p.m. Update: Judge to Determine Charge

The proceedings have ended for the day Tuesday and the jury has been sent home until Wednesday morning.

The defense and prosecution have finished calling all witnesses and the court will now work on the charge, which will guide the jury's deliberations after closing arguments which will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

If Klapheke is found guilty, the sentencing phase of the trial will then begin.

1:27 p.m. Update: Prosecution to Call Last Rebuttal Witnesses

The trial is back underway after a lunch break and the prosecution is preparing to call three more rebuttal witnesses.

The witnesses consist of a Stripes convenient store worker, a woman who worked at the bowling alley where Tiffany Thomas Klapheke also worked, and a wife that lived on Dyess that offered to help Klapheke take care of the children.

The Stripes employee is expected to testify that Klapheke was not in a trance the weekend Tamryn died, a symptom of reactive attachment disorder which several psychologists have testified Klapheke has.

The bowling alley employee is expected to testify that Tiffany could function under stress, therefore rebutting that she had, or was at least not always subject to yet another symptom of reactive attachment disorder.

12:01 p.m. Update: Judge Denies Mistrial

The judge has denied Parnham's request for a mistrial.

Orner has now left the stand and the prosecution will call three more rebuttal witnesses after lunch.

11:46 a.m. Update: Defense Asks for Mistrial

Defense Attorney George Parnham has asked for a mistrial due to something the prosecution’s rebuttal witness said during his testimony.

Dr. Mark Orner, who was called to the stand by the prosecution, mentioned Ted Bundy while on the stand, a move Parnham says unfairly characterizes Klapheke by comparing her to him.

The comment came while Dr. Orner elaborated on other disorders Klapheke might be diagnosed with, including antisocial personality disorder. It was as he was describing the symptoms that Orner mentioned Ted Bundy had it.

The jury was asked to leave the room while the judge hears from the prosecution and defense before making a decision.

10:41 a.m. Update: Defense Rests

The defense has rested after concluding questioning of Dr. Brinkman who testified that Klapheke's reactive detatchment disorder had begun to develop into borderline-personality disorder.

Parnham decided not to play the entire 911 call, which was 17 minutes long.

The prosecution decided not to cross-examine Brinkman, however, they will call a rebuttal witness to counter his testimony.

10:00 a.m. Update: Jury to Finish Klapheke's 911 Call

Day 12 of the Klapheke trial has begun, and the jury will hear the rest of the 911 tape they began listening to on Monday.

The recording is of the call Tiffany Klapheke made to emergency services on August 28, 2012 when she found her 22-month-old daughter, Tamryn, dead in her crib.

The tape was stopped halfway through on Monday so the defense could question court-appointed neuropsychologist Dr. Samuel Brinkman about Klapheke’s behavior during the call.

The trial ended Monday before the tape was finished because the prosecution argued that the defense had broken a deal that had been made regarding the use of Klapheke’s past in an attempt to justify or explain her actions over the weekend leading up to August 28, 2012.

Monday, the defense said Brinkman would be their last witness.

Klapheke Trial: Day 11

6:00 p.m. Update: Day 11 Summary

The 911 call made by Tiffany Klapheke, has only been played a quarter of the way through. The jury will hear the rest of the call beginning Tuesday morning.

Tiffany Klapheke's adoptive mother, Tina Romano, has been in Abilene waiting to testify. However, it no longer looks like she will take the stand. The defense says Dr. Brinkman is their last witness.

The trial will continue Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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5:01 p.m. Update: Court Hears Klapheke's 911 Call

The court heard half of the 911 call made by Tiffany Klapheke on August 28, 2012, the day Tamryn Klapheke was found dead.

The jurors heard Klapheke screaming as the 911 operator tried to calm her. At some point in the tape, one of our reporters in the courtroom said he heard Klapheke say “I’m sorry princess.”

As the call was being played in the courtroom, Tiffany Klapheke held her face in her hands crying.

2:42 p.m. Update: Court-Appointed Neuropsychologist Takes Stand

Samuel Brinkman, the neuropsychologist who was originally assigned to the Klapheke case by the court, has taken the stand.

Brinkman spent about nine hours interviewing Klapheke in February of 2013, and said he spent around 19 hours preparing for his testimony.

During testimony, Brinkman noted that Klapheke would suffer dissociative episodes when under stress. This can be an aspect of reactive attachment disorder which another psychologist said Klapheke suffered from on Wednesday, February 5. When having one of these episodes, Klapheke would suffer memory loss and a breakdown in her personality. 

At her worst, Brinkman described Klapheke as untrustworthy, hyper-sexual, self-victimizing, and self-centered. Even at her best, however, Brinkman noted that Klapheke was still unstable.

He said that the absence of Thomas began a downward spiral for Tiffany.

12:41 p.m. Update: Gann Gives Testimony

Former CPS investigator Tiffany Gann took the stand before the trial went on break for lunch.

Gann described the horrible smell in the Klapheke home the day Tamryn was found dead when she and another CPS worker were sent in to collect the two remaining children, Tatum and Taberlee.

She said the smell on the girls was so bad that people moved away from them as they were being taken into Hendrick for treatment.

Gann then described what she called an unusually large meeting that took place within CPS the following day that was attended by high-ranking officials, as well as the three CPS workers that have been charged in the case.

The trial will resume at 1:30 p.m.

10:20 a.m. Update: Thomas Klapheke Takes the Stand Again

Day 11 of the Klapheke trial is underway Monday, and Thomas Klapheke took the stand once again.

On Friday, the presiding judge decided that Thomas Klapheke would not be asked about an affair he had with former CPS investigator, Tiffany Gann, and that Gann would be allowed to testify, though the topic of the affair would also be avoided in her testimony.

Since the affair happened after the death of Tamryn Klapheke, it was considered irrelevant to the case.

During cross-examination Monday morning, the prosecution asked Thomas if he had chosen to deploy in order to make extra money. Thomas was already working at a bowling alley on the side in order to bring in extra income. He said yes.

In redirect, the defense established a timeline of when he was home, then asked him if he was aware of the Harris lines in Tamryn’s bones. On Friday, January 31, the medical examiner who examined Tamryn after her death testified that 15 Harris lines were found in Tamryn's bones, meaning that she had been starved 15 times in her life. Thomas answered that he was not aware of them and the defense did not push the question further.

Tiffany Gann is next to take the stand.

Klapheke Trial: Day 10

7:00 p.m. Update: Thomas Klapheke Last to Take Stand Friday.

Thomas Klapheke took the stand for a second time Friday.

The defense asked Thomas similar questions that has been previously asked earlier in the day.

The trial will continue Monday morning, February 10, at 8 a.m.

4:06 p.m. Update: Judge Makes Decision on Gann

The judge has decided that Tiffany Gann will be allowed to testify in front of the jury, though she will not be questioned about the affair, and neither will Thomas Klapheke.

3:21 p.m. Update: Judge Breaks to Decide Whether Gann Should Testify

The judge is taking a short break to consider whether Tiffany Gann will testify in front of the jury, and whether Thomas Klapheke will be questioned in front of the jury about the affair he had with Gann.

Defense Attorney John Young says the testimony about the affair takes credibility away from the witness, Thomas Klapheke, and that it also demonstrates CPS's favoritism towards Thomas who not only was the only one not charged, but retains visitation rights with the kids.

Tiffany, on the other hand, is not allowed any visitation.

The prosecution argues that Gann should not testify and all testimony regarding the affair should be left out of the trial because it all happened after the fact.

2:21 p.m. Update: Tiffany Gann Takes the Stand

Tiffany Gann, the former CPS investigator who admitted today to having an affair with Thomas Klapheke, has taken the stand while the jury is out of the room.

Around 1:15 p.m., a special hearing began without the presence of the jury to decide whether Gann should testify. During this hearing, Thomas Klapheke was asked if he knew Gann was with CPS, to which he responded he did not.

Thomas said he and Gann did have sex at another CPS worker's home, though they did not talk about the case.

Gann is still on the stand being questioned while the judge decides whether she will be allowed to testify and whether Thomas will be questioned about their relationship during the trial.

According to Gann, she and Rebecca Tapia, another CPS worker, went to the home of Tiffany Klapheke on August 28 when Tamryn was found dead.

Gann took pictures, then she and Tapia both took the two girls to the hospital.

About a month later, she says they were at Cabos Billiards, now Breakers, when three guys asked them to play darts. After they accepted, they realized one of the men was Thomas.

She then admitted to having sex with him.

Gann’s attorney then halted the line of questioning, arguing that now it has been established Gann and Thomas had a sexual relationship, she does not have to answer any further questions on that point.

Tiffany Klapheke has refused to look directly at Gann while she was on the stand.

Thomas is still waiting to take the stand again.

12:32 p.m. Update: Thomas Klapheke's Testimony

Thomas Klapheke testified Friday morning that he had asked Tiffany, before he left for deployment, if she would be able to take care of the kids. According to Thomas, she said, "yes."

Thomas spoke very softly during the hearing and had to be asked to speak up by the judge.

He said that Tiffany told him she took care of the kids during the day and he believed her.

In reference to the CPS reports, he denied having any responsibility for the neglect that ultimately lead to Tamryn's death, a blame he felt the reports laid on him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Defense Attorney George Parnham asked Thomas if he was aware that his own mother, Tamryn's grandmother, had taken out life insurance on Tamryn, though not on the other two children.

The prosecution objected and the judge sustained it, so Thomas did not answer.

Thomas will take the stand again after the trial breaks for lunch.

At 1:15, there will be a hearing to determine whether former CPS investigator Tiffany Gann will take the stand.  

10:55 a.m. Update: Thomas Klapheke Takes the Stand

Day 10 of the Klapheke trial is underway and Thomas Klapheke, Tiffany's ex-husband, has taken the stand, and we will have updates on his testimony as the proceedings continue.

According to our reporters in the courtroom, upon his entrance, Tiffany Klapheke cried and began rocking back and forth.

It also looks like former CPS investigator, Tiffany Gann, might take the stand later Friday.

The judge held a special hearing Thursday to determine if Gann, who allegedly had an affair with Thomas, would take the stand.

Two other special hearings were held Thursday for former CPS workers, Bit Whitaker and Gretchen Denny, though a decision has not yet officially been made on any of these.

All three may have pending criminal charges based on an investigation Abilene PD launched into CPS in October of 2012 for allegedly mishandling the Klapheke case.

Klapheke Trial: Day 9

5:30 p.m. Update: Dyess Airman Takes Stand, Thomas Klapheke's Sexuality Questioned

The last person to take the stand Thursday was a Dyess airman, John Navaro, who worked with Tiffany's ex-husband, Thomas Klapheke.

Navaro testified that Thomas Klapheke sent him a text message, before Thomas was deployed, questioning what it would be like to have sexual relations with a man.

 Navaro refused to go on, saying more information would be too graphic.

Tiffany Klapheke had previously mentioned during her interogation with APD that Thomas had those tendencies.

Due to incliment weather and bad road conditions, the trial will resume Friday morning, February 7 at 10:00 a.m.

2:52 p.m. Update: Judge Holds Third Special Hearing for CPS Former CPS Worker

The judge has had another special hearing like the ones for Bit Whitaker and Tiffany Gann.

This one was for Gretchen Denny, a former CPS resolution specialist and supervisor, who was fired in connection with the same Abilene PD CPS investigation as Whitaker and Gann.

The judge has not yet ruled on whether any of the three CPS workers mentioned today will be asked to testify in court as criminal investigations may still be pending, and the workers wish to avoid any self-incrimination.

The psychotherapist from the University of Kentucky is still on the stand at this time.

1:15 p.m. Update: Judge to Consider Former CPS Director as Witness

As the jury was released for lunch, the judge had a special hearing on whether or not to let Bit Whitaker, the former Director of Child Protective Services, take the stand.

Whitaker resigned in 2012 after returning from administrative leave following an investigation launched by Abilene PD into whether or not CPS mishandled the Klapheke case.

The defense wants Whitaker to testify, however, Whitaker does not want to risk incriminating herself as further criminal investigations are pending.

Her attorney, Randy Wilson, says Whitaker may be charged with withholding information from a peace officer and obstruction of justice for allegedly altering a CPS document.

The hearing to determine whether or not she will be called to testify will be held at 8:45 a.m. Friday.

Defense Attorney John Young has been asked to submit the questions he intends to ask her before the hearing takes place.

This was similar to the hearing that took place for former CPS investigator Tiffany Gann earlier Thursday morning.

The judge has not ruled on her either.

John Young interviewed Gann over the lunch hour, and based on that interview, the judge will rule on if she will testify.

11:54 a.m. Update: Defense Calls Psychologist to Stand

A juror got into an accident on the way to the trial Thursday morning, delaying proceedings until around 11:00 p.m. The juror was able to make it, suffering only a few stitches.

After the proceedings began, the defense called Beth Higgins, a psychotherapist from the University of Kentucky as their first witness.

Higgins began treating Klapheke in 2007, and contributed to an over 300 page report on the abuse that has plagued Klapheke throughout her life, and the consequences this abuse had on her psychological development.

Among other things, the report says that Klapheke suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of this abuse. She was diagnosed with this during her teenage years.

Wednesday, a different psychologist said that Klapheke suffered from reactive detachment disorder, which can cause sufferers to go into a trance-like state when overwhelmed.

Higgins read from her session notes, testifying that in her first session with Klapheke, Klapheke's adoptive parents, Tina and Mark Scott, told Higgins that Klapheke was uncomfortable with her body. They later told her they often had to tell Klapheke to bathe as she often neglected personal hygiene.

Higgins also notes Klapheke's almost compulsive promiscuity at the time, a behavior the report states began in Klapheke's teenage years.  

She said that Klapheke's relationship with her adoptive mother during the time she was being treated was complicated, and that Klapheke told her she was afraid to testify against her adoptive father, Mark Scott, after sex abuse allegations. 

Higgins said that Klapheke had been seeing a therapist since the age of 6. 

10:21 a.m. Update: Judge Considers Permitting Witness

After a special hearing before the trial proceedings began, it was decided that the defense would be permitted to interview Tiffany Gann, a former CPS investigator who allegedly had an affair with Thomas Klapheke--Tiffany Klapheke's now ex-husband.

Judge Hamilton has now said another special hearing will take place to determine whether Gann will be taking the stand.

Klapheke Trial: Day 8 

4:00 p.m. Update: Defense Calls First Witness

The defense has called their first witness, a psychologist who has testified that due to trauma endured during her childhood, Tiffany Klapheke has developed reactive detachment disorder.

According to the psychologist, Klapheke was sexually abused from the age of five, if not before, and was adopted by her current parents, Tina and Mark Scott, at the age of 8.

He said that her adoptive father, Mark, began sexually abusing Klapheke almost immediately after adoption, and the sexual abuse worsened until she was age 16.

The psychologist noted that reactive attachment disorder can cause those who suffer from it to go into a trance-like state when things become overwheliming for them, and added that he believed Klapheke was "very, very bright."

3:25 p.m. Update: Prosecution Rests after Calling Final Witness

The prosecution has rested after calling Thomas Klapheke’s supervisor as their last witness.

The supervisor said she offered to take care of the Klapheke children several times while Thomas was deployed, including the Friday before August 28 when Tamryn was found dead.

She was called into the home the day after, August 29, to help clean up the home before Thomas returned from his deployment, and began crying when recalling to the court how the inside of the home looked.

Thomas’s supervisor testified her offer to take care of the kids was open-ended and that she made sure that the Klapheke’s knew about the childcare services available at the base, and she kept an eye on the family because she knew they were involved with CPS.

She told the court that Tiffany Klapheke called her from jail after her arrest and asked her to tell her ex-husband, Thomas Klapheke, that she loved him and was sorry for what she had done.

2:25 p.m. Update: Trial Pauses as Judge, Attorneys Consider Witness

The trial took a short break while a decision was being made on whether or not an expert on reactive attachment disorder, one of the defense’s witnesses, would be allowed to testify.

The jury was momentarily asked to leave the courtroom as the attorneys spoke to the judge in his chamber following a long conversation attorney John Young had with Tiffany Klapheke.

The jury has now been let back into the courtroom and the decision has been made to let the expert testify.

However, the jury can only consider his testimony when determining Klapheke's guilt or innocence, not during the punishment phase.

The prosecution will call its last witness Wednesday.

10:31 a.m. Update: Pediatrician Gives Disturbing Details on Children's Conditions

Dr. Jayme Coffman, who helped treat the Klapheke children at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, testified Wednesday that while Tatum was more malnourished than Taberlee, Taberlee had the worst chemical burns.

In fact, according to Coffman, Taberlee was suffering from second-degree chemical burns that were so severe, Taberlee had to be placed in a whirlpool machine used for treating burn victims in order to remove diaper and fecal matter that had become embedded in her skin.

Coffman described Taberlee as “wild,” testifying that she had to be restrained in order for the medical staff to keep IVs and feeding tubes in her. Taberlee kept repeating the phrase, “all gone.”

At this point in Coffman’s testimony, a woman walked out of the courtroom in tears, according to our reporters in the courtroom.

Coffman went on to say that Taberlee had calluses from chewing on her fingers, and Tatum’s thumb was raw from sucking on it so often. According to Coffman, Tatum was so malnourished and close to death that she appeared shrunken and shriveled.

Both children had to be fed very carefully.

Dr. Coffman is the child abuse pediatrician who was consulted on the girls' care while at Cook Children’s. She said she had been in practice since 1990 and this case was the worst she had ever seen.

9:30 a.m. Update: Cook Children's Doctor to Testify

Day eight of the trial of Tiffany Klapheke is underway.

The doctor working at Cook Children’s Medical Center who saw Tatum and Taberlee will take the stand Wednesday.

A Television has been set up in the courtroom, likely in order to show photos taken of the girls after arrival.

Klapheke Trial: Day 7 

2:54 p.m. Update: Both Sides Listen to Klapheke Phone Calls to Mother

The prosecution and defense teams have listened to three phone calls between Tiffany Klapheke and her mother, Tina Romano.

Since Romano is on the witness list, the purpose of hearing the calls was to determine whether or not Romano is still fit to take the stand, based on what Klapheke revealed to her about the previous days in court.  

During the calls, Klapheke complains about the media coverage of her case, saying the media is trying to present her as a monster, and claims the sheriff's deputies talk bad about her within earshot. She cries as she recounts how difficult Friday's proceedings were for her. 

Klapheke tells her she feels she is being judged on every little thing. 

Within the same call, Klapheke tells Tina that her now ex-husband, Thomas Klapheke, had been cheating on her as early as 2010. 

Throughout all three calls, Tina expresses sympathy toward Klapheke and prays for her, telling her in a call made on February 1st that she will eventually come home and get help.

The judge decided Tina is still qualified to testify.  She is scheduled to testify in person this week.

11:00 a.m. Update: Dyess AFB Family Advocacy Center Representative Takes Stand

Ed Wilcock, who is with the Family Advocacy Center at Dyess Air Force Base, is now on the stand. 

During the Perez court-martial, Wilcock testified he first got involved with the Klaphekes' case due to reports of medical neglect and the Klaphekes' allegedly failing to pick up medication for their children.

Also, during that previous testimony, Wilcock was the first to bring up the three-way relationship between Tiffany, her husband Thomas and Christopher Perez.

So far during his testimony Tuesday morning, Wilcock has mentioned that Tiffany Klapheke was given direct and lawful orders to take her children to doctor appointments at least eight or nine times that he could recall.

Wilcock also said he had told the Klapheke’s about parenting classes and Mother’s Day Out programs that were available.

His testimony will resume after the trial’s morning break.


10:46 a.m. Update: Pediatrician Elaborates on Surviving Children's Conditions

Dr. Justin Smith is now off the stand.

During his testimony he elaborated on the state the children were in after they arrived, once again touching on the testimony concerning how long the girls had been left in their diapers before they were brought in.

He said he had to stop trying to take them off the children at one point because it was hurting them.

Smith also stated that Tatum’s body had begun depleting its own tissues - wasting - due to malnutrition, which is also characterized by the distended belly Tatum had.  

It was he who decided the girls' conditions needed more specialized care and sent them to Cook Children's Hospital. 

9:56 a.m. Update: Hendrick On Call Pediatrician Testifies

Dr. Justin Smith, the pediatrician on call the night Tatum and Taberlee went to Hendrick Medical Center in August of 2012, will describe what he saw while he and the jury look at pictures of them.

During Christopher Perez’s court-marshal, he testified that they had to carefully remove the girl’s diapers which hadn’t been changed in days, and that they smelled.

He also said the 6-month-old had no motor development and made no attempt to sit up.

9:00 a.m. Update: Trial Begins for Day 7 

Day seven begins in the trial of Tiffany Klapheke. 

The judge will decide whether to permit a phone conversation between Klapheke and her mother to be submitted as evidence. 

We will have more updates throughout the day as the proceedings continue.

Klapheke Trial: Day 6

6:00 p.m. Summary

The last person to take the stand on day six of the Tiffany Klapheke trial was Brandon Glaze, a friend Klapheke met a Stripes convenience store just outside the entrance of Dyess Air Force Base. 

Glaze testified Tiffany and him would hang out four to seven nights a week. He says the late night outs were at restaurants, shopping trips to Walmart, or at Lake Fort Phantom. Glaze originally told police they hung out three to four times a week. 

Tomorrow morning at 8:45, before the jury comes into the courtroom, the Judge will determine if a phone called placed between Klapheke and her adoptive mother can be used as evidence. 

3:39 p.m. Update: Officer McDaniel Cross-Examined by Young

Officer McDaniel is being cross-examined by Defense Attorney John Young. 

Before the trial went on a short break, the prosecution was looking at how many of the evidence bags had bugs stuck under the tape used to seal them.

Last week, the medical examiner testified that Tamryn had roach bites on here face and feet, and some of the fecal material found on her and her bed came from bugs.

Young argued that there were no bugs on or in any of the evidence when it was opened in the courtroom. 

During cross-examination, Young asked McDaniel if he saw any bugs in the home as they were collecting evidence and McDaniel said no, however, he did state that there were bugs stuck to the tape. These bugs appear to be the same ones pictured by Tamryn's arm in a photo taken of her at Abilene Regional Medical Center on the day she was found dead. 

2:18 p.m. Update: Physical Evidence Taken from Klapheke Home Displayed

Officer Wallace McDaniel of Abilene PD is still on the stand going over the physical evidence collected from the Klapheke home, including a stained piece of carpet.

McDaniel also showed the jury a collection of soiled garments, towels and blankets, eventually unwrapping the very mattress on which Tamryn Klapheke slept, which had been soaked in urine and fecal matter. 

When Klapheke saw the mattress, as well as a sippy cup Tamryn used also presented at the time, she began crying and had to be comforted by Parnham. 

Unlike Klapheke’s reaction when shown Tamryn’s autopsy photos last Friday, she remained controlled and was not escorted from the courtroom. 

Our crew in the courtroom report that the jury and first two rows of people sitting in the gallery are obviously reacting to the smell coming from the bags of evidence. 

Also displayed were two glass smoking pipes, one with residue, found next to the marshmallow leaves--which can be smoked--in the kitchen.

11:35 a.m. Update: APD Detective Gives Testimony

A detective with Abilene PD, Stacy Cisneros, has taken the stand and is being cross-examined by the defense. 

10:07 a.m. Update: Tamryn's Pediatrician Takes the Stand

The trial of Tiffany Klapheke is underway Monday, and the pediatrician who saw Tamryn Klapheke, Tiffany’s 22-month-old daughter who died from neglect, talked about Tamryn’s visits.

According to her testimony, the pediatrician had recommended monthly visits for Tamryn due to her slow growth and problems with the proper development of motor function. Tamryn even underwent genetic testing to make certain there was nothing medically wrong with her, and those tests came back negative.

However, Tamryn would often miss appointments.

When she did show up, it was Thomas Klapheke who brought her. When asked why her weight was so low, Thomas would say it was because she had been sick.

According to the pediatrician, CPS was notified several times, and the last time she saw Tamryn was on February 2, 2012. 

Klapheke Trial: Day 5

4:50 p.m. Update: Trial Ends Until Monday

The trial proceedings have ended for the week and will resume Monday.

4:03 p.m. Update: Klapheke Re-Enters Courtroom Following Emotional Outbreak

Klapheke has returned to the courtroom and the jury has resumed viewing the photos as a medical examiner elaborates on them.

The photos reveal chemical burns and fecal matter all over 22-month-old Tamryn's body, which the medical examiner says happened while Tamryn was alive, as well as after death.

The examiner says he believes some of the fecal matter came from roaches.

Tamryn's x-rays showed evidence of 15 "Harris lines," which are lines formed in the bones when the body is stressed by starvation, and then recovers. This means that Tamryn was starved 15 times in her life.

The medical examiner said, by his best estimation, Tamryn had been dead anywhere from 6 to 16 hours before arriving at Abilene Regional Medical Center.

3:25 p.m. Update: Klapheke Begins Screaming, Escorted from Courtroom

Tiffany Klapheke had to be escorted out of the courtroom after she began breathing heavily and screaming as the jury was being shown graphic photos of Tamryn on the hospital table.

Our reporters on the scene say it was as the second photo was being shown that Klapheke began hyperventilating, yelling and crying loudly.

The jury was also asked to leave the courtroom momentarily.

2:50 p.m. Update: Detective Vickers Testifies on CPS Investigation

Parnham has asked Detective Vickers if he thought CPS fully cooperated in the Klapheke investigation, and Vickers responded that he believes three individuals with CPS did not.

The prosecution claims it is common knowledge that Thomas Klapheke and CPS worker Tiffany Gann had affair when he got back from deployment.

Parnum believes the affair may have taken place before he left and that is why she did not cooperate fully and withheld evidence.

Vickers is now off the stand now and a medical examiner will take the stand after a short break.

2:28 p.m. Update: Detective Vickers Taking the Stand

Detective Eric Vickers, who was one of the first people on the scene at the Klapheke home on August 28, 2012, took the stand Friday a little before the trial went on break Friday afternoon.

The proceedings have resumed and Detective Vickers is now being cross-examined by Defense Attorney George Parnham.

Detective Vickers has recounted how when he got the home, Klapheke’s other two daughters, Taberlee and Tatum, had sunken eyes and appeared ill.

Parnham has asked Detective Vickers if he knew whether Klapheke was on any medication at the time of questioning, and if she knew she was being video taped.

The topic is now being directed toward the CPS investigation.

We will have more details as the proceedings continue.

10:50 a.m. Update: Jury Finishes Taped Klapheke Interview

The video ends with Klapheke being placed in handcuffs and police telling her she is being charged with three counts of injury to a child.

At this point, police inform Klapheke of the conditions of her two surviving children, letting her know that they both had to be taken to Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth where her 6-month-old was only hours away from death.

When police further inform her that animal control will take her animals, she begins pleading with police to leave them with her husband or Perez.

Finally, CPS comes in and informs her they will be taking her kids when they get out of hospital.

We will continue to post updates as proceedings continue.

10:30 a.m. Update: Taped Interview Continues, Perez Enters

At this point in the video, Perez has entered the room and they hug and cry as Klapheke laments saying Tamryn wouldn’t wake up even though she still had her eyes open.

She tells Perez that she hasn’t been allowed time to wash the smell off, and Perez responds that he is sorry this is happening to her.

Klapheke tells Perez she has had to tell the police what they did

Klapheke goes on to tell the detective interviewing her that she had not changed the sheets in Tamryn's crib for a month prior to this incident.

When Klapheke noticed the burns on Tamryn the Friday before she locked the girl’s in the room for the weekend, she said she was ashamed and therefore did not wish to be around Tamryn.

9:38 a.m. Update: Day 5 Begins, Jury Finishing Taped Interview

Day five of the Klapheke trial begins and the jury resumes watching the rest of Tiffany Klapheke’s videoed interview.

At this point in the tape, Klapheke has admitted to not changing her daughter’s diapers for the entire weekend.

She has also asked to see Christopher Perez who was also at the police station at the time giving a statement.

The detective asks Klapheke if they do bring in Perez, would there be any yelling, and Klapheke answers, no, she just wants to hug him.

We will continue to update this story throughout the day as proceedings continue.

Klapheke Trial: Day 4

5:25 p.m. Update: Court Recesses Until Friday

Judge Hamilton has recessed court for the day. The jury will continue viewing Klapheke's taped interview with APD detective Eric Vickers on Friday morning.

Stay with BCHP for the latest trial updates.

4:38 p.m. Update: Jury Over Halfway with Interview Video

The jurors have watched over half of Tiffany Klapheke’s taped interview, and have seen her change her original story regarding the day she found Tamryn dead.

She changed the time she claimed to check on the two oldest girls in their room after waking up on August 28 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

She then said she did not have the girls out of their rooms much that weekend because she needed a break, but claimed she checked on the girls the night before.

Klapheke asked about her other two kids and admitted to Detective Vickers she had not been a good mom over the past few days.

Regarding her husband Thomas, Klapheke told Detective Vickers that she had asked for a divorce as she drove him to the airport for deployment. She said she thought at first that he might be interested in men, but that he had instead revealed he wanted to see her sleep with other men, including Perez.

She emphasized the only person she was close with was Perez, and that Thomas did not care if she slept with Perez, though he said it was still wrong.

Klapheke also went on to talk more about her past, recalling that her adoptive mother threw her out of the house at midnight on the night she turned 18 because, she claims, of the allegations she brought against her adoptive father who had allegedly been raping and sexually abusing her.

She said her adoptive mom took her adoptive dad’s side because he had incriminating information on her.

2:14 p.m. Update: Trial Resumes, Jury Sees Klapheke Admit to Relationship with Perez

The Klapheke trial resumed at 1 p.m. Thursday following some audio issues, and jurors continue to review the six hour video interview with Tiffany Klapheke conducted by Detective Eric Vickers.

Since the trial reconvened Thursday evening, the jurors have seen Klapheke admit to Detective Vickers that she was, in fact, in a relationship with Perez, and that her husband had, at one point, asked her to sleep with Perez while he watched.

In the video, Detective Vickers then asked Klapheke if Perez could have done anything to the kids because, at the time, Perez was under investigation for sexual assault in a separate case.

When confronted about the burns found on all three of her children after they were examined by medical personnel, Klapheke insisted they were rashes from yeast.

Klapheke tells Detective Vickers that she believed there was no way Perez could have harmed her children as she locked them in their bedroom from the inside, using a nail to unlock it. She admitted, though, that some times she would wake up and the door would be unlocked.

This confession followed after Detective Vickers told Klapheke the base had been locked down and Perez was caught attempting to leave the base.

Klapheke is left alone at one point in video and she can be seen breathing heavily, almost to the point of throwing up.

Authorities come in and bring her a trash can and she asks for a cigarette.

We will have further updates as proceedings continue.

11:39 a.m. Update: Video Issues

There are audio problems with the video which they will try to fix.

The jury will reconvene at 1 p.m.

10:47 a.m. Update: Jury Breaks

The video has been paused momentarily as the jury takes a short break.

At the last point in the video, Detective Vickers is asking Klapheke about the burns on Tamryn's toes, knees and chest.

Klapheke responds that she does not know how Tamryn was burned, and Detective Vickers then asks if she might have placed Tamryn in a hot bath.

It was later revealed that the burns were chemical burns caused by being left in her own urine and other bodily fluids.

10:20 p.m. Update: Klapheke Describes Her Experience the Day Tamryn Was Found Dead

The jury continues to watch the six hour interview with Klapheke, in which she describes the day she found 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke dead.

Klapheke says that she fell asleep around 5 a.m. on August 28, and awoke around 3:30 p.m. when she then went into the toddler’s room to find the oldest daughter standing over Tamryn, looking scared.

Klapheke shook Tamryn, but she did not wake up, and she noticed her eyes were open and rolled back, and her lips had turned purple.

Klapheke then tried reviving Tamryn by placing her under cold water as the oldest child watched and cried.

Klapheke describes how she noticed there was a liquid in Tamryn’s crib where she had been lying and she immediately ripped off the sheets, put the oldest in the living room and called 911.

She also talks about how former Dyess Airman Christopher Perez was staying with her with her husband’s knowledge. At this point in the video, however, she has not admitted to having a relationship with Perez, something that was later admitted to.

She tells Detective Vickers that though they had slept in the same bed, they had separate sheets.

Klapheke also describes how she felt her husband, Thomas Klapheke, was a good father, but felt separated and distant from him, and not just by miles. She described feeling neglected and alone.

During the interview, Klapheke speaks hurriedly as she continues to rock back and forth.

In the courtroom, the jury watches intently as Klapheke watches the video in tears, being comforted by her attorney.

We will have more as the proceedings continue.

9:00 a.m. Update: Jury to Watch Six Hour Interview

Day four of the Tiffany Klapheke trial has begun.

The jury will watch a six hour video interview of Klapheke conducted by Detective Eric Vickers on the day police and first-responders arrived at the Klapheke home.

The interview was conducted at the Law Enforcement Center.

Vickers revealed his experience when entering the Klapheke home that day during the hearing before the Christopher Perez court-martial.

Klapheke Trial: Day 3

8:30 p.m.

Matthew Jones, Master Sergeant of 7th Bomb Wing Security Squadron, was first on the scene the day Tiffany Klapheke called 911. Jones told the jury from the witness stand that when he walked into the Klapheke home he saw Tiffany Klapheke sitting on the Kitchen floor holding 22-month-old Tamryn's lifeless, soaking-wet body in a towel. Klapheke discovered Tamryn in her room, then put her in cold water to try and bring her back to life.

Jones told the jury when he walked in, Klapheke asked for his help and he immediately grabbed the child and started performing life saving measures. When Jones saw there was nothing he could do, he handed the child back to Klapheke.

A forensics officer with the Abilene Police Department also took the stand Wednesday. The officer took pictures of the home on the day of the incident. The pictures were shown to the jury on a monitor in the courtroom, while Klapheke watched. The pictures showed the conditions the children were living in.

The two rooms, the master bedroom and the children's bedroom, had fecal matter on the mattresses. Those conditions, along with the overwhelming smell in the home, were also later described by two other detectives with the Abilene Police Department who testified.

Tomorrow, a six hour video of an interview with Tiffany Klapheke conducted by an Abilene Police Department detective conducted on the day she called 911 will be shown to the jury.

Click here for more information.

5:13 p.m. Update: Trial Adjourns for Day 3

The Klapheke trial has adjourned for Wednesday. We will have a wrap-up of Wednesday's proceedings shortly.

3:35 p.m. Update: Jury Sees Images of Inside of Klapheke Home

Images taken of the inside of the Klapheke home as it was found on the day Tamryn Klapheke was found unresponsive were shown to the jury.

Below is a drawing of the Klapheke home done by one of our reporters during the Perez court-martial.

Pictures of the toddler’s room, marked BR II on the map and located to the right of the entryway, show a crib and a toddler’s bed with mattresses covered in fecal matter.

Fecal matter was also found on the cups that were in the crib and on the bed.

The master bedroom was a mess with clothes and empty drink cups and cans strewn everywhere.

Clothes covered in feces, along with dirty diapers were also found on the floor, and in the master bathroom.

The kitchen was well stocked and the garage had several empty pizza boxes in it and several trash bags.

The living room to the left looked lived in, but not too bad.

2:30 p.m. Update: Abilene PD Criminalist Takes the Stand

Criminalist with Abilene PD, Officer Randall Farmer, has now taken the stand.

Officer Farmer took pictures both interior and exterior pictures of the Klapheke house, and 182 of his pictures have been admitted into evidence.

A television is now being set up so the jury can see them.

Jurors have been warned that some things they will see during testimony will be difficult to handle.

1:49 p.m. Update: Trial Resumes, Abilene PD Detective Called to Stand

Abilene PD Detective Jeff Cowan has been called to the stand as the third witness for the prosecution.

Detective Cowan also testified during the Christopher Perez Court-Martial and said they could smell the house before they went inside and had to open windows to make the smell tolerable.

11:40 a.m. Update: Opening Statements, First Witness Called

Opening statements were given Wednesday morning in the Klapheke trial, and the first witness was called.

Klapheke arrived in the court room dressed in understated attire consisting of black pants, a black shirt and a gray blazer.

Klapheke cried during opening statements as her attorneys George Parnham and John Young described her childhood which was fraught with sexual and physical abuse.

A 300 page report from the University of Kentucky where Klapheke was receiving therapy sessions in the past recorded years of this abuse.

Her attorneys brought up that she was raped and sexually abused by her adoptive father and other family members—she was only four when her maternal uncle began sexually abusing her.

Her adoptive father reportedly threatened to kill her if she ever testified against him.

Also, during the opening statements, Parnham detailed other types of abuse Tiffany Klapheke was subjected to, including being forced to witness and being subject to violent acts.

According to Parnham, when Klapheke was 5-years-old, she was forced to watch five Dalmatian puppies burn to death after her biological mother set them on fire.

Her brother also tried to stab her at one point.

In part, to emphasize the life-long effects of such acts, Parnham also testified that like Klapheke, her sister was also given up for adoption and has lost custody of her children.

The prosecution then offered a glimpse into the days leading up to the death of 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke.

The prosecution claimed Klapheke had last changed Tamryn’s diaper on August 24, 2012, and left her in her room, not entering again until August 28.

The prosecution called their first witness this morning as well, the first responder to arrive at the Klapheke home after Klapheke found Tamryn unresponsive.

He described the stench in the home and how, when he first saw Tamryn, he thought she was covered in bruises. It took him a moment to realize it was chemical burns. First-responders gave similar testimony regarding the terrible conditions of the home during the Court-Martial of Christopher Perez.

Police also brought in a cart full of evidence which contained several mattresses at the bottom. The mattresses may belong to the Klapheke children as first-responders reported the mattresses were covered with urine and human waste. However, this waits to be seen.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution plan on arguing that Klapheke was mentally incapable of taking care of the children, though the defense is arguing that it did play in to her decisions as an adult.

Klapheke told the court Wednesday morning that she was not guilty.

The trial is now on break and will resume shortly. The second witness is expected to be called after the proceedings resume.

Klapheke Trial: Day 2

5:30 p.m. Update: Jury Selected

A jury has been seated for the trial of Tiffany Klapheke who is accused of neglecting her three children, one to the point of death.

Six men and six women have been selected for the jury. Two alternates have also been chosen.

It took two days to get to this point in the trial, but we have learned facts about the trial while listening to the jury selection process.
Tiffany Klapheke will hear Christopher Perez testify. Perez, a former Dyess Airman, lived with her while her kids were being neglected and her husband was deployed.

We will not hear from Child Protective Service workers who have criminal charges pending, including the regional director Bit Whitticker, who showed up on day one to have her attorney say they will be invoking their 5th amendment right.

Click here for a complete timeline of the Tiffany Klapheke trial.

For more information click here.

10:45 a.m. Update: Jury to Be Selected Late this Afternoon

Jury selection is running a little behind schedule and attorneys are still conducting one-on-one interviews with about 20-30 potential jurors.

The rest of the jury panel has been sent home and will convene at 4 p.m. to select a jury.

Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

8:40 a.m. Update: Jury Selection Expected to End

Most of the 96 potential jurors from Monday will return Tuesday for continued selection.

Jury selection is expected to end some time Tuesday afternoon.

Though no one knows exactly how long the Klapheke trial will last once jury selection is over and proceedings begin, the prosecution has said they plan on calling thier last witness on Tuesday, Frebruary 4, which means the trial could last as long as a little over two weeks, if not longer.

Klapheke Trial: Day 1

4:14 p.m. Update: Jury Selection Continues

The prosecution has finished speaking with the jury pool and the defense is now taking their turn.

Out of the 96 remaining potential jurors who arrived Monday morning, five have said they never heard of the Klapheke case.

So far, no one has been dismissed. 

10:22 a.m. Update: Pre-Trial Motions Heard

Several pre-trial motions were heard Monday morning in the Klapheke case, revealing what might be expected from certain key witnesses, as well as part of the prosecution’s course of action.

The prosecution revealed they attempted to speak with Christopher Perez—Klapheke’s live-in boyfriend during the time her middle child, Tamryn, died from neglect and the other two were hospitalized—but, Perez declined and requested an attorney.

Perez was sentenced to three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force in October of last year for his involvement in the case. He is being held in Taylor County Jail in preparation for the Klapheke trial in which he is expected to be called as a witness.

CPS employees on the witness list are expected to plead the fifth if called to testify due to pending criminal charges stemming from alleged mishandling of the Klapheke case. One of those witnesses is former Director of Child Protective Services, Bit Whitaker.

Whitaker resigned in October of 2013 after returning from administrative leave she and other CPS administrators were placed on after Abilene PD launched an investigation into possible misconduct in connection to the Klapheke case in August of that same year.

The prosecution will attempt to prove that Klapheke lied repeatedly during the investigation in an attempt to protect herself and Perez, rather than her children.

Jury selection officially began around 10 a.m. and may last most of the day.

8:22 a.m. Update: Jury Selection to be Finalized

Tiffany Klapheke and one of her attorney's, George Parnham, arrived at the Taylor County Courthouse a little after 8:00 Monday morning.

Klapheke's trial is scheduled to begin today, however, jury selection is still ongoing and may take most of the day.

The final 12 jurors will be selected from the remaining 96, chosen from the 251 potential Jurors that showed up Friday morning, January 24, for selection.

For more on the Klapheke case, click the banner at the top of this story.

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