10/30/13 Perez Transferred
Former Senior Airman, now listed as Airman Basic, Christopher Perez was transferred from Taylor County Jail Tuesday.
He was transferred to Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California.
10/18/13 Court-Martial Day 4
5:54 p.m. Update
Christopher Perez has been sentenced to three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force. He is being taken to Taylor County Jail.
4:26 p.m. Update
The sentencing phase is closing. Prosecution pointed out that Tamryn, the child that died, would have turned three-years-old this week and is asking for the maximum penalty of nine years in prison.
The defense said Perez has been punishing himself since that day last August. Crying, he told the judge what happened to the children will haunt him for the rest of his life.
The judge is now deliberating on the sentence.
2:29 p.m. Update
The judge has ruled Christopher Perez as not guilty of dereliction of duty, guilty of adultery, and guilty on three counts of child endangerment.
12:00 p.m. Update
The judge is deliberating in the Perez court-martial. He told defense to check back with him at 1 p.m. to see if he has come to a decision.
11:50 a.m. Update
In closing arguments, the prosecution clearly placed the blame on Perez fro not reporting the neglect. They said the children must have watched him in the home, hoping he might help and let them out of their rooms.
The defense argued that Perez was not obligated to report the neglect since, according to what Klapheke told him, the children had been taken care of and he had been forbidden to go into their rooms. They claimed Perez thought the bad smell was coming from ct urine.
The defense also pointed out that there was a team of people responsible for checking on the welfare of the kids, and argued that the blame should be placed on CPS who did not make the final home visit before closing the case.
10:19 a.m. Update
The defense is expected to rest after the break.
There is some speculation that they may ask Perez to testify, but that has not yet been confirmed.
The defense called as a witness an airman that said he met Tiffany Klapheke at a Stripes gas station just outside the gates of the base a month before the day first-responders were called to the home.
Perez was allegedly watching the kids. The witness said that Klapheke invited him and one of his buddies back to her home, but left after about 30 minutes when she came onto them.
The second witness, also an airman, testified that he had babysat for Tiffany Klapheke twice, and the second time was about two weeks before the death of Tamryn Klapheke.
The airman claimed he stayed in the living room, never seeing the kids, while Perez and Klapheke went out. He also claimed the smell in the house wasn’t all that bad and he got used to it.
9:05 a.m. Update
The defense is expected to call two witnesses Friday in the court-martial of Senior Airman Christopher Perez.
The prosecution rested Thursday evening after calling on several witnesses, including Abilene PD, the medical examiner, Thomas Klapheke and other first-responders.
We will have updates as the proceedings continue.
10/17/13 Court-Martial Day 3
CPS testified this evening about their interview with Perez. He explained that when he would get home from work, Tiffany would tell him the kids were fed and bathed and in bed, don't go in their rooms even if they cry. His work hours were from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm
Thomas Klapheke testified as well. He said that he was the one who would take the children to their doctors appointments, and Tiffany would always make excuses as to why she couldn't go. He also spoke about finding out that his daughter had died while he was deployed, and that he had to come back early. He was very soft spoken and hard to hear from the back of the courtroom.
The prosecution has rested and the defense will begin presenting their case tomorrow at 9 a.m.
The medical examiner just testified concerning the autopsy performed on Tamryn Klapheke, and what he described was horrific.
He described her as malnourished, being overly thin with no body fat, and her bone marrow had been depleted far beyond normal circumstances.
Her body was covered in burns and fecal matter. There were also signs she had ingested fecal matter as well.
The examiner determined the cause of death was dehydration and malnutrition, and noted the manner of death as homicide.
Doctors and first responders have been testifying concerning the conditions of the children and the home. All have said it was the worst they had ever seen.
According to those witnesses, Tiffany Klapheke would keep her two oldest daughters in a room because they did not get along, and where a cartoon played in a continuous loop on the television.
Doctor's also testified that the crib of the now deceased Tamryn, Klapheke's 22-month-old daughter, had scratch and bite marks on the wood.
Doctor's also testified that Klapheke's 6-month-old, Tatum, would have died had she not been treated on that day. On a positive note, though, doctors are also saying that since then, Tatum has made a full recovery.
Witnesses have spent the morning describing the terrible conditions in the Klapheke home, including beds and a bathroom floor that were soaked in urine and feces.
A neighbor of the Klapheke's testified moments ago claiming they had never seen children playing in the yard and, in fact, were unaware that children lived in the house.
An account of what witnesses have said about conditions on the inside of the Klapheke home as discovered on August 28, 2012:
One of the first responders on the scene was called as a witness a short while ago in the Perez court-martial. The witness is a member of the security forces on Dyess and is in charge of training. He testified that, as a security forces officer, Perez would have had training in identifying signs of neglect and abuse.
The security officer saw Klapheke sitting in the kitchen holding her 22-month-old daughter, and screaming, realizing she could not revive her.
The officer said he had to throw away his uniform after leaving the home due to an overwhelming smell that clung to it.
Opening statements have been given in the court-martial of Airmen Christopher Perez. The prosecution has testified that when first-responders entered the Klapheke home, the home was so filthy the air inside stung the faces and skin of those who entered.
Photos of the children, who had to be treated as burn victims due to the wounds suffered from lying in their own bodily fluids, were also presented as evidence against Perez.
The defense is arguing that Klapheke lied to Perez, telling him she fed and bathed the kids while he was at work, and would not let him see the kids when he came over, saying they were in bed.
The defense is also arguing that the home was not in such a state all the time, but only on August 28, the day first-responders were called after Tiffany Klapheke found 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke unresponsive in her crib.
Day three of the court-martial of Christopher Perez began Thursday morning.
After speaking with the prosecution and defense, the judge decided to allow only one of the statements from the 6 hour interview Abilene PD conducted with Tiffany Klapheke. Klapheke states she did not take the children to the doctor because she was afraid CPS would be called.
The defense wanted Klapheke to be granted immunity so she could testify without fear of self-incrimination, but the request was denied.
The defense is arguing that Perez did not live in the house with Klapheke. However, the prosecution is arguing that Perez had made an agreement with Klapheke where he would babysit in exchange for rent.
Perez has entered a plea of “not guilty” to all charges.
10/16/13 Court-Martial Day 2
10:25 p.m. Update
The second half of today's proceedings went quickly, lasting less than an hour.
During the break the judge began watching the six hour interview with Tiffany Klapheke.
The Defense would like only three statements made by Klapheke entered into evidence.
However, the prosecution argued that the statements could not be taken out of context.
No ruling was made on this motion. Instead, both the prosecution and defense were
asked to explain why the interview would either benefit or harm their case.
Wednesday night, the judge will review his notes from Wednesday and finish watching the interrogation video.
Court will reconvene Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
12:25 p.m. Update
Airman Christopher Perez has elected to be tried by a judge rather than by jury.
The judge will now watch a six hour interview with Tiffany Klapheke conducted by APD.
The proceedings will resume at 6:30 tonight.
11:00 a.m. Update
The court-martial proceedings for Airman Christopher Perez are on break until noon.
The judge attempted to come up with a definition of at what point in time did Perez's failure to report the neglect count as Dereliction of Duty.
The defense was unhappy with the definition and another attempt will be made after the break.
9:50 a.m. Update
Determining the exact definition of Dereliction of Duty, one of the charges brought against Perez for failing to report the neglect in the Klapheke home, has brought the court-martial to a halt.
The prosecution has failed to define under what circumstances Perez was obligated to report the abuse, and without infringing on his right to not incriminate himself.
The Judge has agreed to attempt to define what qualifies as “Dereliction of Duty” for the jury. If this does not happen, there is the possibility that the charges could be dropped. However, Perez has yet to determine whether he wants to be tried by jury or by judge.
9:00 a.m. Update
Tuesday's proceedings lasted a total of 12 hours, and the proceedings continue Wednesday.
Wednesday, the judge is expected to decide whether he wants to allow the jury to view 22 photos taken at the Klapheke home, and photos of the injuries the children received due to neglect. The judge was concerned that if the photos were shown, the jury would automatically convict Airman Christopher Perez.
Perez is also expected to make a decision on whether he would rather be tried by judge or jury.
Our crews are in the courtroom and we will have updates as the proceedings continue.
10/15/13 Court-Martial-Day 1
1:15 p.m. Update:
A jury remains on standby for the court-martial of Senior Airman Christopher Perez. Perez has still not made the final decision on whether he would prefer to be tried by judge or by jury.
Members of Abilene PD who worked the case testified today regarding the severity of the burns found on 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke who had allegedly been left in her crib for days. The burns were described as extensive.
At this time, discussion continues over whether or not there was a violation of Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice during the pre-trial process.
11:50 a.m. Update:
The judge presiding over the court-martial of Senior Airman Christopher Perez has denied the defense's plea for a change of venue.
Now the defense is arguing for the case to be dismissed based on a violation of Article 31 rights, which can be compared to Miranda rights for a civilian, though Article 31 is specific to military law.
The exact violation being cited has not yet been specified. The prosecution is arguing the investigation was under Abilene PD, and therefore Article 31 does not apply.
The defense is arguing that the investigation was handled jointly by APD and by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, thus making Article 31 relevant.
The court-martial of Dyess Senior Airman Christopher Perez began early Tuesday morning and is currently underway.
Airman Christopher Perez has been charged with adultery for allegedly having a relationship with Tiffany Klapheke while her husband was deployed.
He has also been charged with dereliction of duty and child endangerment for failing to report the conditions in the Klapheke home which lead to the death of Tiffany Klapheke's 22-month-old daughter.
Perez is being denied permission to wear his uniform on base during the trial, and is currently being restricted from leaving the base.
The defense is arguing for a change of venue due to the high level of media coverage.
The defense is also asking for credit toward punishment if Perez is found guilty due to disciplinary actions taken against Perez prior to the trial.
Pictures of the house and information on the autopsy of Tamryn Klapheke--the 22-month-old who died from severe neglect in the home of Tiffany Klapheke--are expected to be presented Tuesday.
The Abilene Police Department is also expected to testify.
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