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Robert Glen COE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 1, 1979
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: April 15, 1956
Victim profile: Cary Ann Medlin (female, 8)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Weakley County, Tennessee, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Tennessee on April 19, 2000


Three days after 8 year old Cary Ann Medlin disappeared on September 1, 1979, Coe admitted, that he had lured her into his car as she rode a bicycle near her parents' home in Greenfield, Tenn.

Coe told police in handwritten and recorded statements that he sexually molested the girl, then tried to choke her, and when that did not work, stabbed her and watched her bleed to death.

He also said that just before he killed her, she said to him, "Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you."

Coe had a long history of family and drug abuse, repeated arrests for exposing himself in public, and had been committed to mental hospitals on four occasions prior to the murder.


Robert Glen Coe (April 15, 1956 April 19, 2000), born in Hickman, Kentucky, was convicted of the rape and murder of eight-year-old Cary Ann Medlin, and later executed for the crime.

Kidnapping and Murder

On September 1, 1979, Cary Ann Medlin and her step brother were riding their bicycles in the neighborhood near their home in Greenfield, Tennessee. Robert Coe pulled up next to them and began to talk to them, acting as if he knew Cary's father and needed directions to his house.

Cary got into Coe's car to help him, and she was never seen alive again. As soon as she was reported missing, friends and neighbors in the close-knit community began a massive search to locate Cary or the man whose car she was last seen in.

The following day, her body was found at the end of a road on the outskirts of town. An autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted.

Coe had a long history of drug abuse, mental problems, and exposing himself in public. Shortly after the crime he told family members that he had killed someone, but they initially did not believe him. After hearing about the murdered girl, some of Coe's family members started to help him evade capture by buying him a bus ticket to Georgia, but another notified the police. Coe was captured at the bus station.


Coe was arrested and confessed to the murder, giving a detailed description of the crime. Coe confessed that he drove Cary to an isolated spot on the outskirts of town and then raped her in his car. After raping her, he then became angry at her when she said to him "Jesus loves you" and decided he was going to murder her. He went around to her side of the car and yanked her out of the car by her throat. He choked the eight year-old until she turned blue, but he could not strangle her. He then told her to walk down the road and while he walked behind her, he pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed her in the throat. She fell to the ground, grasping at her throat, but quickly bled to death.


On April 19th, 2000, 21 years after the crime, he was executed in Nashville, Tennessee by lethal injection. He became the first person to be executed by the State of Tennessee since 1960 when the death penalty was reinstated.

One of the death sentences that U.S. District Judge John T. Nixon reversed, prompting calls for his impeachment, was reinstated by a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that Nixon wrongly reversed the conviction that Robert Glen Coe received for raping and murdering an 8-year-old girl in rural West Tennessee in 1979. The appeals court reinstated both the conviction and the death sentence that a Shelby County jury gave Coe in 1981 for the torture-murder of Cary Ann Medlin.

In February 1981, Coe was convicted of the Labor Day 1979 kidnapping, rape and murder of 8-year-old Cary Ann. U.S. District Judge John Nixon in 1996 threw out Coe's convictions for 1st-degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping.

Nixon's ruling -- which angered supporters of the death penalty -- wiped out Coe's death sentence for the murder conviction and his two life sentences for the rape and kidnapping convictions.

Coe told police in 1979 that he kidnapped the girl, sexually assaulted her and cut her throat. He also said that just before he killed her, she said to him, "Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you." He tried unsuccessfully to withdraw the confession and was convicted. Tennessee appeals courts upheld Coe's conviction. But Nixon threw it out, saying the trial jury was given improper instructions on when capital punishment should be applied, including on the issue of whether the killing was done with malice.

Medlin's mother, Charlotte Stout of Greenfield, Tenn. said she was "really relieved" by the appeals court action, since Nixon's December 1996 ruling would have given Coe a new trial. "I couldn't imagine going through that again," Charlotte said. Coe admitted, three days after Cary Medlin disappeared in September 1979, that he lured her into his car as she rode a bicycle near her parents' home in Greenfield, Tenn. Coe, who had a history of mental illness, told authorities that he sexually molested the girl, then tried to choke her and, when that did not work, stabbed her and watched her bleed to death.

Nixon reversed Coe's conviction and death sentence in December 1996 because of what he called errors the trial judge made in instructing the jury. Nixon said the judge at Coe's trial did not give the jury enough guidance when he defined the terms "heinous, atrocious and cruel," "reasonable doubt" and "malice."

The 6th Circuit panel disagreed with Nixon on each of those points. Nixon has reversed five death sentences imposed by Tennessee juries, and higher federal courts have affirmed his rulings in four of those cases.

But his reversal of Coe's conviction and death sentence stirred a grass-roots campaign, based in Greenfield, calling for his impeachment. Nixon has a well-known anti-death penalty stance and has accepted awards for such. Both houses of the Tennessee legislature jumped on the impeach-Nixon bandwagon, and Charlotte Stout went to Washington to testify before a congressional committee. But Congress took no action against the judge. Nixon, 65, has now "taken senior status," or semi-retirement, as a trial judge.


Tennessee Executes Coe 19 years after conviction

By Lawrence Buser -

The Commercial Appeal

NASHVILLE - Tennessee's first execution in 40 years occurred this morning when child-killer Robert Glen Coe died of a lethal injection. The death of Coe, 44, came at 1:37 a.m. after a Nashville judge's order forbidding the execution was lifted by the Tennessee Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the execution.

Coe was convicted of killing Cary Ann Medlin, 8, a few miles from her Greenfield, Tenn., home on Sept. 1, 1979. "The family of Cary Medlin is relieved and in good spirits,'' said Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Correction as he announced at 12:45 a.m. that the execution would occur.

Coe was moved to a closely monitored death watch cell at noon on Monday and on Tuesday evening had a last meal of fried catfish, white beans, hush puppies, coleslaw, french fries, pecan pie and sweet tea. Coe was given a lethal combination of drugs intervenously in both arms.

Shortly before 1 a.m., Coe was strapped to a gurney and wheeled into the 15-by-20-foot execution chamber of the prison where intravenous catheters were inserted into each arm. He was given an opportunity to make a final statement before the deadly chemicals were injected. After Coe was allowed to make a final statement, Warden Ricky Bell authorized an unseen executioner in an adjoining room to begin the flow of a succession of deadly chemicals. Coe first was given sodium pentathol, a sedative to render him unconscious; then pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxer to stop his breathing and finally potassium chloride to stop his heart.

At about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Davidson County Circuit Judge Thomas Brothers temporarily halted the execution, saying Coe's attorneys' argument that requiring prison health care workers to participate in the execution would mandate they violate the Hippocratic Oath that prevents them from injuring people.

Because there has never been death by lethal injection in Tennessee, judges and justices were trying to determine matters of procedure as well as which judges had the authority to decide the issues raised by the defense before they ultimately gave the go-ahead for the execution. In addition to the issue of whether the prison's medical personnel should be required to participate, Brothers ruled that there was a question about whether the lethal injection procedures follow state laws governing the setting of Corrections Department policies.

Coe told authorities he killed Cary after he abducted and raped her, then heard her say "Jesus loves you.'' The execution occurred after scores of people marked the day with remembrances of Cary and protests over the morality of the death penalty. Dozens of death penalty supporters and opponents gathered in separate sectors outside the gates of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution on the west side of town.

In Memphis, protesters gathered on the steps of the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Midtown to pray and hear speeches. Also, a special memorial service was held earlier in Nashville's Centennial Park in memory of Cary. "We're just hoping this will bring us some closure,'' said Cary's stepfather, Mickey Stout, who witnessed the execution along with his wife, Charlotte Stout, Cary's mother.

On Tuesday morning, about two dozen anti-death penalty activists were arrested for blocking the gate in front of the Governor's Mansion. Gov. Don Sundquist, however, was vacationing in Florida. He was to return to Nashville Tuesday night prior to the execution. Late Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Coe's requests for a stay of execution and review of the state's competency procedures. After spending part of the afternoon saying goodbye to family members, Coe was served his last dinner.

Coe was the state's first inmate to die by lethal injection, the 126th person executed in Tennessee since 1916 and the first since 1960. Under a 1999 law, he chose lethal injection over the electric chair. He also was the 29th person executed this year in the United States and the 627th executed since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a four-year moratorium on capital punishment. Coe's execution leaves Tennessee's death row population at 96 inmates, including two women.

Defense attorneys had argued up to the 11th hour that Coe was delusional, psychotic and incompetent to be executed. They had won three stays of execution in the past six weeks, but all were lifted after federal courts reviewed his challenges to the state's competency procedures. Coe was born April 15, 1956, in Hickman, Ky., and lived in several small towns in Northwest Tennessee, typically in farm shacks with no running water. His sisters and brothers recalled on a defense-made videotape that the family lived in poverty and that the children often were beaten and sexually abused by their father.


Coe: Crazy or Cunning? Experts are Split

By Lawrence Buser -

The Commercial Appeal

January 21, 2000

Opposing mental health expert reports say condemned child killer Robert Glen Coe is either "the boy who cried wolf" and is faking mental illness to avoid execution or "a brain-damaged individual suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia." The experts, three psychiatrists and a psychologist, will be the key witnesses in a competency hearing Monday in Criminal Court that Coe is scheduled to attend under tight security.

Coe's local defense attorney, Robert Hutton, asked that special security precedures be taken. He said Coe has made numerous suicide attempts over the years and has received death threats from other state inmates. "I have an extreme safety concern for Mr. Coe," Hutton told Judge John Colton Jr. "Given the nature of this case, I think there's a high probability of something happening without extraordinary precautions being taken."

The court-ordered reports, filed last week, were made public Thursday after being kept under seal. Coe is to be executed at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville March 23. It would be the state's first execution in 40 years.

Two defense-recommended experts say Coe has a long history of mental illness and will not be mentally competent to be executed. Two prosecution-recommended experts counter that Coe has an equally long history of faking or exaggerating mental illnesses and that he is competent.

Coe, 43, was convicted in Memphis in 1981 in the abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old Cary Ann Medlin of Greenfield in northwestern Tennessee. He confessed to the crime and told authorities he stabbed her in the neck after she told him "Jesus loves you." Under the law, an inmate is not mentally competent to be executed "if he lacks the mental capacity to understand the fact of the impending execution and the reason for it."

The evaluations, while focusing on Coe's mental condition, also give an inside glimpse of his life behind bars. Prison records cited in the reports paint Coe as a reclusive loner with longtime fears that other inmates want to kill him for murdering a young girl. The reports indicate his fears are not unjustified.

Coe told doctors other inmates call him "baby killer" and that he stays in his cell 24 hours a day for safety, passing time by drinking instant decaf coffee, smoking up to 40 cigarettes a day and watching nature shows on television. The denture-wearing Coe has shaved his head and chest because of a sensitivity to dust mites.

In 1989, he cut his throat because he was not receiving his lithium, and a year later cut both forearms with broken glass from a television screen. Although still fighting execution, Coe professes to believe in reincarnation and says he is prepared - and expects - to be executed. "It doesn't matter how you die - you're going to die," one report quotes Coe, who last fall "picked the needle," choosing lethal injection over electrocution. "I'm ready to go to the next life. Get me out of that room (cell) up there. People think you have it made up here. I'd rather be dead than be up here."

He also told doctors he wants his lawyers to prove him innocent rather than crazy, but that he could not remember the name of the girl he was convicted of killing or the alleged motive. "People get murdered all the time," Coe told one doctor. Coe believes himself to be the subject of a government plot, one report said. Last fall, Coe wrote a letter to Cary's mother, Charlotte Stout, professing his innocence, saying he was framed and that "only God can help you or me right now."

Coe has a long history of family and drug abuse, repeated arrests for exposing himself in public and had been committed to mental hospitals here and in Florida on four occasions prior to his murder case.

The examiners, who are being paid by the state $300 an hour each plus expenses, included psychiatrist Dr. Daryl Matthews of Honolulu and psychologist Dr. Daniel Martell of Newport Beach, Calif., both recommended by state prosecutors, and psychiatrist Dr. James Merikangas of Woodbridge, Conn., and psychiatrist Dr. William Kenner of Nashville, both recommended by Coe's defense team. Matthews and Martell are with the forensics consulting firm of Park Dietz & Associates, which was involved in evaluations of Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was found sane in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison, where he was killed by another inmate.

Among the findings of the four doctors: Merikangas called Coe "a brain-damaged individual suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia" who is incompetent to be executed and will be incompetent on March 23; "Mr. Coe does not understand the meaning of death, nor does he feel that being executed will be punishment," he said; "Rather, he views his forthcoming execution as a release from his present situation in order that he may return to life, according to his delusions."

Kenner, in the past month, found Coe competent in two visits and not competent in two others, including one on Jan. 11 in which he said Coe was strangely forgetful, suspicious, angry and ordered him to leave; The doctor said that -had in the past likely were due to drug abuse and stress rather than a major mental illness. He said Coe does not have schizophrenia and is not delusional; "In my opinion, Mr. Coe is aware of his impending execution and the reason for it," Matthews said.


Robert Glen Coe

Robert Glen Coe gave two confessions to agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in September 1979 - one taped, one handwritten - admitting to the kidnapping, rape and murder of 8-year-old Cary Ann Medlin in Greenfield, Tenn. Here is the graphic handwritten confession. Though it is disturbing, The Commercial Appeal feels it is important that readers see it as Coe moves closer to becoming the first person to be executed in Tennessee in 40 years:


"On Saturday September 1, 1979, I worked at the Carroll County Collision Body Shop in McKenzie. While I was at work my boss sent me out for some parts and I took his old truck and went to Paris and tryed (sic) to flash but I did not see anyone to flash so I returned to work.

"I had had the urge to flash all day but could not find anyone to flash at. I drove around in Greenfield trying to find someone to flash at when I pulled into the parking lot of the church and parked and that is when I saw the little girl and boy on the bicycles. They were back to the right from the church. I pulled out and followed them and I lost sight of them so I circled the block and then I saw them again.

"I pulled up and stopped beside them and talked to the little girl. I ask her where her daddy was and she said at home. I ask her to show me where he lived. She said that she had to leave her bicycle somewhere so I told her to go back down to the church. I don't think I said anything to the little boy at that time.

"I told her I had not seen her daddy for awhile and that is when I ask her to show me where he lived. They followed me back to the church. When I got to the church I stopped and she got into my car a 1972 Ford Torino four-(4) door brown over greyish brown. She got into the front seat. She told the little boy to watch the bicycles. When she got into the car I drove down the street and turned left. "She ask me where I was going and I told her for a ride. She just hung her head down and she did not say anything else.

"I drove around some streets and I drove up a gravel road to a ball park and turned around because some cars were parked there. I drove around on some more roads looking for a place to go and I finally found that gravel road. I did not know that road was there. I just found it. I also drove down some more roads looking for a place to stop. When I got to the gravel road I just pulled down the road and turned around and stopped. "The little girl did not say anything. (Coe then describes in graphic detail how he raped Cary.)

"I told her to shut up as I finish my sex act. She told me that Jesus loves me and that is when I got so upset and I decided to kill her. When I finished the sex act I pulled up my pants and I got out of the car and I walked around the car and I opened the door on her side of the car and I caught her around the neck and and jerked her out of the car and I tryed to choke her to death with my hands. She turned blue in the face, but she woud not die so I choked her and made her walk down the road into the weeds away from the car. She walked backward down the lane and I pushed her and choked her. "I stopped and I told her to shut her eyes and I took out my pocket knife and opened the blade and I caught her by the hair on her head and I pulled her head back and I stabbed her in the neck once and pushed her down on the ground.

"After she fell to the ground she ask me if I was going to kill her. She started jerking and grabbing at her shirt at the neck. I stood there and watched the blood come out of her neck like turning on a water hose. She struggled and jerked. I don't remember her shoes but I may have placed them by her body I don't know. I got some blood on my hands and I pulled some leaves off the bushes and wiped the blood on them. I then ran and tryed to get away from there.

"I pulled out of the gravel road onto the paved road and turned right as I was driving I hit some bumps in the road and I still had the knife in my hand and the blade stuck into my finger when I pulled off the paved road onto Highway #45 and turned right in the direction of Martin. I pulled out into the path of a big truck and he swerved ... around me. "After he passed I threw out the knife into a bean field. I went to Martin and then onto Dresden to my sister-in-law Vicki Box's but my wife was not there and then I started back to McKenzie to find my wife. As I was driving by the nursing home in Dresden I threw my flip flops out of the car window because of foot prints I left at the scene where I killed the little girl. I went on to McKenzie and got me another pair of shoes. I came back to Dresden where my wife was at her sisters. "I also changed the color of my hair from light brown to dark black. I did this Monday night. I also traded my 1972 Ford Torino for a 1972 Mustang at Crestview Motor in Gleason. I did this because of the description of the car and me on the news. I told my stepfather about stabbing someone and he laughed at me. I told Darrell Rose and my wife that I had stabbed a state trooper at Camden and that that was why I had to change the color of my hair and get out of town. They took me to the bus station in Huntingdon and I was going to travel under the name of James Watson. I was going to Georgia.

"Some of the towns that I have flashed in before are Tiptonville, South Fulton, Martin, Paris, Union City, Greenfield, Sharon, Gleason, Dresden, McKenzie, Henry, Lexington, Obion, Troy, Jackson and Samburg. The above statement is true and correct. I am giving this statement of my own free will.

"(Signed) Robert Glen Coe 9-7-79"



Sept. 1 - Cary Ann Medlin is abducted a few blocks from her Greenfield, Tenn., home. Her body is found in a field the next day.
Sept. 4 - Police arrest Robert Glen Coe in Huntingdon, Tenn., as he prepares to board a bus to Georgia.

May - Coe sentenced to death for first-degree murder and given life sentences for aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping.

The Tennessee Supreme Court affirms the judgment.

- The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review the case.
- Coe files for post-conviction relief, saying his attorneys did not present an adequate defense.

The trial court denies Coe's petition. The state Court of Criminal Appeals upholds that decision.

Coe files for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court.

The request is denied two years later for failure to exhaust state remedies. Coe files a second state post-conviction petition, which is denied six months later, affirmed on appeal and denied review by state Supreme Court.

Coe files second federal petition for writ of habeas corpus, citing constitutional errors in his trial.

U.S. Dist. Court Judge John Nixon dismisses Coe's conviction and death sentence, citing improper jury instructions and cumulative errors throughout the trial.

After reviewing an appeal by Tennessee, three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reverses Nixon and on Nov. 16 reinstates Coe's conviction and death sentence.

March 15 - Sixth Circuit refuses Coe's petition to have his case reviewed by the full panel of judges, which normally includes about 15 members. Also in March, the Tennessee Supreme Court denies Coe's third post-conviction petition, which had been filed in 1995 and denied by the lower courts.
Oct. 4 - The U.S. Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for Coe to be executed on Oct. 19.
Oct. 11 - Tennessee Supreme Court delays Coe's execution to allow his appeal for reconsideration to the U.S. Supreme Court by Oct. 29.
Nov. 19 - Coe's attorneys ask U.S. District Judge John Nixon to reopen the case and block his execution.


Preparation for Execution; State Video Records Coe Minutes Before Execution

By John Shiffman - The Tennessean

Small segments of a silent and stark 22-minute video that show Robert Glen Coe's transfer from his cell to the execution chamber April 19 may be released today by the state. The heavily censored videotape, obtained by The Tennessean via court order, offers a rare glimpse of the prelude to an American execution, and the tapes' probable release triggered debate over whether the state should have recorded it, and whether the media should publish it. "I don't know whether it should be made public or not, honestly," said Robert Hutton, the defense attorney who was with Coe during the time the video was shot. "On the one hand, out of respect for Robert -- he's been dragged through the mud enough -- I'm not sure it needs to be shown. On the other hand, I think it's important for people to see how barbaric this whole process is." (link contains video and transcript)

Advocates of the death penalty have said publicity of events surrounding executions may be a deterrent to serious crime. But one of them, victims rights advocate Rebecca Easley, said she worried the images would "elicit sympathy for Coe." The video was recorded by prison guards just before 1 a.m. on April 19, in the tense minutes before Coe became the first person executed in Tennessee in 40 years. Coe was sentenced to death in 1981 for the rape and murder of 8-year-old Cary Ann Medlin.

"I don't mind the dying part," Coe says moments before he is executed, according to a transcript of the video compiled by the state Department of Correction. Correction spokesman Steve Hayes said prison officials made the tapes "to document the cell extraction" and "to make sure things were done correctly." The state spent about $2,000 to record it, records show. Hayes said the state "possibly" will record the preludes to future executions.

The next death-row inmate in line is Philip Workman, who is scheduled for execution Jan. 31. State law prohibits the recording of actual executions, and Hayes has said the state did not record Coe's execution. Because the tapes are so heavily censored -- about 19 of the 22 minutes are essentially blacked-out -- it was unclear yesterday when it begins and ends.

The state said a Tennessee law that shields the identities of execution participants prevented officials from releasing a less-censored version of the tapes. The first part of the tape shows a one-second shot of Coe being wheeled from his cell to the execution chamber. A fuzzy image then follows of Coe's head in position for execution. Later, Coe is seen bouncing from one foot to another in his cell. Fearing voices might be identified, the state deleted sound from the censored tapes and provided a limited transcript. At one point, Coe says, "I want to make it easy, you know."

Then he asks about the chemicals that will put him to death: "The stuff just comes in you, does it just go to sleep?" And the answer: "The first one puts you to sleep, the second one will stop the breathing, the third one stop the heart, OK." A spokeswoman for the state attorney general said earlier this month the office would not comment on the tapes.

In an e-mail, Coe's sisters asked The Tennessean not to pursue release of the tapes, arguing their family had suffered enough. Federal Public Defender Henry Martin, who was Coe's chief lawyer from 1987 until his death, said he felt sorry for the family but would not quarrel with the newspaper's decision to publish the images.

He said he found the state's effort to record the moments before the execution disturbing. "It just smacks too much of the Third Reich, as if they're treating people as experimental beings so that we learn how to more efficiently kill somebody. I can't see that as being consistent with a humane, caring society," Martin said.

Vanderbilt University sociology professor Gary Jensen said that while some believe public executions will deter crime, and others believe the opposite, studies have shown that publishing such images will probably have no "net effect on public opinion or the death penalty." A decision to publish or air part of the video is a "tough call" for the media, said Middle Tennessee State University journalism professor Richard Campbell.

"I would weigh the greater public good of what the citizens and your readers are going to get from this against the objections of the family. Certainly, this is state action, but it's also the revealing of a very painful and tragic and private moment." Al Tompkins, a former Nashville TV news director who now teaches at the Florida journalism think-tank The Poynter Institute, said he is "hard-pressed" to see The Tennessean's justification for printing the image on the front page. "Simply because the newspaper fought for it in court is not a defensible argument for using this picture.

Publishing one photograph, or using a videotape, is not and should not be a replacement for serious coverage of issues." National execution expert Michael Radelet, who leads the sociology department at the University of Florida, said he knows of no news outlet that has ever published a video that shows what happens before an execution. Recently, the Florida courts posted graphic photographs of a botched execution on a Web site. The picture was an exhibit in a court case.

Richard Dieter, of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., said while he opposes the live broadcast of executions, a videotape of the moments before might add to the public debate. "I think knowledge is a good thing. On the whole, it's an area where there's been a lot of myths and, when everything is done after midnight and the only thing you hear is the last words and the last meal -- as if that's all you needed to know -- there is more to this. It's all part of the debate," Dieter said.

The Tennessean learned of the tapes in late July, while reporting a series on the execution, and requested them under state public record laws. The Correction Department refused, and the newspaper sued, asking a judge to force the state to alter the tapes to hide the identities of the participants in the execution. Though the case remains unresolved, the Correction Department has provided the newspaper with a heavily censored version, which it will release to other media today.


Scenes From an Execution

By John Shiffman - The Tennessean

(Special 8 part series by the Tennessean that includes articles, video, and images from the Coe case)

For years, they kept silent. Lawyers and other officials who wanted to execute Robert Glen Coe and those who wanted to save him felt they could not talk publicly. Now, these insiders are breaking that silence.

They are talking in detail for the first time about what went on behind the scenes the day the state carried out its first execution in 40 years. What they say may surprise many Tennesseans. A sampling:

- Not every state lawyer arguing for Coe's execution was a fan of the death penalty. At least two senior government lawyers had misgivings.
- Defense lawyers didn't coach Robert Glen Coe to act crazy in the final days in a desperate attempt to halt the execution. The opposite was true.
- Charlotte Stout, the mother of victim Cary Ann Medlin, convinced prison officials to convert a special room so she could witness the execution live, rather than on video monitor.

In an eight-part series that begins today, The Tennessean recounts that final day, taking readers into the minds of the lawyers, judges, families and other participants on both sides of the case. Their thoughts, their prayers, their nightmares, their strategies. These people confronted issues and conflicts that mirror the concerns of many Tennesseans about justice and capital punishment. Their stories are significant because most of the players will repeat their roles in future executions.


Coe Scheduled to Die Early Wednesday

The Jackson Sun

April 18, 2000

NASHVILLE - As Robert Glen Coe was moved to the death watch area of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution Monday, a federal appeals court refused to stay his execution, leaving the fate of the convicted child murderer and rapist in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. Coe, 44, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday at 1 a.m. CST for the 1979 kidnapping, rape and murder of 8-year-old Cary Ann Medlin of Greenfield.

Coe had asked the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to review a decision made by a three-judge panel of that court that found Coe mentally competent for execution. In denying the full hearing, the 6th Circuit said Coe's concerns were fully considered by the three-judge panel and did not deserve another hearing. Coe's attorneys have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review Coe's mental competence and Tennessee's method for determining it.

U.S. Supreme Court standards prevent the execution of the insane. The threshold question is whether the inmate understands the punishment and why he or she is receiving it. After a four-day trial court hearing in Memphis in January, Judge John Colton ruled that Coe meets the standards required for execution. Coe, once a part-time auto mechanic, is set to become the first person executed in Tennessee in 40 years.

He cursed and spat at prosecutors during the trial, causing Colton to have Coe gagged and then removed from the courtroom to watch the proceedings from another room by television. Coe was calm after he was removed from the courtroom. The trial court's decision has been upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court and two tiers of federal appeals courts.

The Jackson Sun

In the last month, Coe has twice come within 16 hours of being executed. Both times his execution was stayed by federal courts while they reviewed the competency question. Mickey Stout, Cary Ann's stepfather, said he has a "gut feeling" the execution will be carried out this time. "I've been wrong every time," Stout said from his home in Greenfield Monday. "But I don't think the Supreme Court will touch it." He added that in all of Coe's previous appeals to the Supreme Court, the high court has refused to hear it. "I think it's going to happen this time," he said. Stout and his wife, Cary Ann's mother, Charlotte, plan to hold a 5:30 p.m. memorial service for the girl at Centennial Park in Nashville.

Anti-death penalty advocates and religious groups are also planning activities in Nashville today. At Belmont Methodist Church, in Nashville's Hillsboro Village, the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing will hold a service to pray for both Medlin and Coe. The coalition is also hosting speakers and music - including singer-songwriter Steve Earle - at the prison at 10 p.m. This will be followed by a silent vigil starting near midnight. "I don't think this execution will do justice appropriately," said Sky McCracken, pastor of East Trinity United Methodist Church in Jackson. He is against the death penalty and plans on attending the service and the vigil tonight. "You don't solve one murder with another, whether it's state-sanctioned or otherwise." Some state religious leaders have condemned the Tennessee Supreme Court for scheduling the execution during the holiest week on the Christian calendar and at the beginning of the Jewish Passover. Wednesday is the first evening of Passover and four days before Easter. A spokeswoman for the state's high court said the justices chose a date one week from April 11, when a federal court lifted Coe's stay of execution.

But religious leaders say the timing shows insensitivity and even indifference to the state's people, culture and beliefs in the heart of the Bible Belt. "The truth is there's just no good day, no good week and no good year to do this," said Harmon Wray, a death penalty opponent from Nashville who works on criminal justice issues for the United Methodist denomination.

Schedule for Coe's last day

Robert Glen Coe, 44, has spent the last 21 years of his life in prison, sentenced to die one day for the rape and murder of 8-year-old Cary Ann Medlin. Today he is spending his last day in custody in an 80-square-foot death watch cell, 50 feet from the cross-shaped lethal injection table where he is scheduled to die at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Here's how Coe will spend his last day, according to Ricky Bell, the warden at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, located in West Nashville. Robert Glen Coe was expected to be awakened at about 6 a.m. today for his last day. In Building 8, where his death watch cell is located, he will be allowed to receive visits from previously approved family members and friends, as well as his attorneys. He also has access to a minister.

Two days before his March 23 execution date, Coe requested his last meal to be catfish, french fries, cole slaw, white beans, pecan pie and sweet tea. He is scheduled to be served that meal between 4:30 and 5 p.m. At midnight, Coe will dress in cotton trousers, shirt, and socks or cloth house shoes. At 12:55 a.m., he will be asked to step to the door of his cell and be handcuffed. If he refuses to leave his cell, the "extraction team" will remove him. He will then be strapped to the gurney and wheeled into the death chamber.

Inside the death chamber, the gurney will be bolted to the floor. The IV technicians will insert a catheter into each arm, attach the tubing and start an IV. At 1 a.m., Coe will be allowed to make a last statement, and the lethal chemicals will be released into the IV lines until Coe is presumed dead. His request to Gov. Don Sundquist for clemency already has been denied.


Jewish Peace Fellowship

Tennessee: New Impending Execution Date Set

The Tennessee Supreme Court set a new execution date yesterday for convicted child-killer Robert Glen Coe -- Wednesday, April 19 -- after a federal appeals court panel said Tennessee courts gave Coe a fair hearing on whether he is mentally competent to be executed. Coe's lawyers are expected to ask the full 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and then the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, for another stay of execution while they pursue their claim that Coe is too mentally ill to be put to death by the state. But further delays become less likely as Coe's case goes higher in the federal court system, said Nashville lawyer and legal scholar David Raybin.

"There is a remote possibility that this could be postponed one more time, for a week or so," Raybin said yesterday. "But I would expect Mr. Coe to be executed by the end of the month. This is a train that is just not going to stop." Coe has received 2 stays of execution from federal courts within the past 3 weeks -- each of them less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection at Riverbend prison. But yesterday's appeals court ruling on Coe's mental condition removed one of the last obstacles to his becoming the 1st prisoner executed in Tennessee since 1960. Gov. Don Sundquist has said he won't do anything to reduce Coe's death sentence, which he received for kidnapping, raping and murdering an 8-year-old West Tennessee girl, Cary Ann Medlin, in 1979.

A Memphis trial judge ruled Feb. 2, and the Tennessee Supreme Court agreed on March 6, that Coe is mentally competent to be executed, despite a history of mental problems both before and after he was convicted of murdering the little girl.


Congressman Ed Bryant - Press Release


Washington, D.C. - Tennessee has carried out its ultimate criminal penalty for the first time in four decades with the execution of Robert Glen Coe earlier this morning. Our justice system has overcome an unconscionable number of years of appeals which all too frequently brought this case to a frustrating standstill. Certainly Mr. Coe was deserving of his punishment, as his unspeakable crimes robbed a young girl and her family of her innocence and life. As Tennessee now has carried out the mandate of an impartial jury and the will of its citizens, we should be mindful of the gravity of this sobering moment in our state's history.

For a strong majority of Tennesseans, the moral imperatives of justice require that the death penalty be carried out. I have always supported appropriate use of the death penalty since it serves as a deterrent to violent crime and because it provides a degree of closure to the victim's family. But while I support the death penalty, I find no happiness in the death of any fellow human being. Indeed, the taking of a life is the most powerful right conferred upon the states by our Constitution. It should be exercised with the utmost care, and in this case, I am comfortable that it was. Mr. Coe filed numerous appeals in state and federal courts for some twenty years and without any doubt "had his day in court".

I can only hope that the families of his victim, as much as possible, will be able to finally put this terrible murder behind them and move forward with their lives. Justice has been served.


Cary Ann Medlin Memorial Homepage

According to her murderer's confession, Cary Ann Medlin's last words to him were: "JESUS LOVES YOU."

Cary Ann was an average 8 year old little girl. Brown hair framed her sweet face, and big brown eyes enhanced her constant, glowing smile. This darling won the hearts of any who crossed her path with her soft-spoken ways and zest for life. Cary attended Sunday School at the First Baptist Church in Greenfield, Tennessee. She learned at an early age about the love of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Her favorite color was pink. She loved country music, and often pranced around the house singing, "Turn Your Radio On". She loved to swim and ride her bike. She took ballet and wore her pink tutu in her first recital. Her favorite cartoon was "The Pink Panther" and she had a huge stuffed Pink Panther on her bed. She loved being barefooted and hated shoes! She sucked her thumb until she was almost 2 years old. She was a carefree little girl that loved life, and lived it with passion. She couldn't understand why people sometimes lied. Cary loved everyone she ever met and lent a hand anywhere she could...even to a total stranger....

On September 1, 1979, Cary and her step-brother were riding bikes in the neighborhood. A friendly man in an old car pulled up beside her. He seemed to know her father and he persuaded Cary to show him where she lived. She parked her bike in front of a nearby church and climbed into the car. That was the last time Cary was seen alive. As soon as Cary was reported missing, the entire community went into action. Scores of volunteers combed the nearby areas searching for her and the suspect vehicle.

The next day, the family's worst fears were confirmed when Cary's body was found at the end of a field road on the outskirts of town. Soon after, a family member of Robert Glen Coe reported suspicions of him to the police. He was consequently arrested and charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of Cary Ann.

Most of the confession was a nightmare for the family. There was, however, one part of the Coe's testimony that stood out. It was that something that told Cary's loved ones that the Lord had taken care of her, even to the end. Just prior to ending the misery of this poor defenseless angel, Coe said she looked up at him with trusting eyes and said, "Jesus loves you." Even Coe choked back tears telling this part of his confession.

Coe was brought to trial and found guilty in 1981. He was sentenced to two life sentences for the kidnapping and rape. He was given the death penalty for murder. For 21 years this case languished through the judicial system. To the family's horror it landed on the desk of Judge John Nixon in the Middle District of the Federal Courts in Tennessee. Judge Nixon had a reputation of overturning death sentences. He did not disappoint. Cary's mom, Charlotte Stout, went to Washington, D.C. and testified about Judge Nixon's actions to the Subcommittee for Courts and Intellectual Properties (a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee) in 1997. (see link) Judge Nixon was not impeached, however he semi-retired in 1997.

He still receives his full salary and still hears a 60% case load. To our knowledge, he has not received another capital punishment case. After 21 years of trial and appeals, Robert Glen Coe was executed on April 19, 2000. It was the first execution in the State of Tennessee in 40 years and the first lethal injection, ever. Cary's family watched the execution from an adjoining room. Much to their sadness, Coe did not apologize before his death. Finally, 6 months before what would have been her 30th birthday, Cary rested in peace.

The "Cary Ann Medlin Memorial Scholarship" is given annually to a graduating senior at Greenfield High School in Greenfield, Tennesseee. This is a completely self-limited scholarship (must be replenished every year) and depends totally on donations from family and friends. It is awarded to a student based on financial need and merit. If you would like to contribute to this scholarship or if you have questions, please click on the link and email Cary's family. We do not accept the donations personally, but will route you to the contact person at our local university.


8 Years Old, Cheerful, Chatty, Christian & Victim: Robbed of her Innocence

The Jackson Sun

Cary Ann Medlin was out riding bikes with her brother on Evergreen Street in Greenfield on Sept. 1, 1979, when she was approached by a man with a car who said he needed to speak to her father, but didn't know where he lived. The 8-year-old left her bike with her brother, at the Primitive Baptist Church, got in the car and was never seen again. Rescue workers found Cary Ann's body in a field 10 miles from her Weakley County home 20 hours later; she had been raped and stabbed.

Police arrested Robert Glen Coe, 23, of McKenzie at the Greyhound station in Huntingdon three days after the killing. Coe, a part-time automobile mechanic with a history of sexual deviancy and drug abuse, had dyed his sandy brown hair black and sold his Ford Gran Torino. He was preparing to board a bus for Georgia. Coe was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape and first degree murder in 1981 in Shelby County, where the trial was moved to limit pre-trial publicity. He was sentenced to death for the murder, and to two life sentences for the kidnapping and rape charges.

Coe has had at least nine execution dates in his 21 years on death row. If executed as scheduled by lethal injection, he will be the first inmate put to death in Tennessee in 40 years.


A 19-Year Wait for Child's Killer to Die

By Robert Anthony Phillips - APB News Online

April 5, 2000

Says 8-Year-Old Daughter Had 'Old Soul in a Young Body'

GREENFIELD, Tenn. ( -- Charlotte Stout had Tuesday evening planned. She would speak at a memorial service for her murdered child, appear on a television program to answer questions from viewers and then go to the state prison to watch the man who killed her daughter die. Then she received a call from the attorney general's office. Robert Glen Coe, who kidnapped, raped and murdered her daughter in 1979, would not die the next morning. There had been another stay of execution given to him. "I was devastated and frustrated," Stout said. "I thought that finally we would have closure and be allowed to go on with our lives." Coe was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Cary Ann Medlin, 8. For almost 20 years, Stout, now 47, has been waiting for Coe to be executed. Now she will have to wait longer.

But maybe not much longer. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted Coe a stay 15 hours before he was to die by lethal injection and promised a quick review of the state's procedures that found Coe competent. Coe's attorneys argue that the condemned man has a history of mental illness, including paranoid schizophrenia. They say several doctors have concluded that Coe is mentally ill, and that he has spent time in mental hospitals in Tennessee and Florida. But the delay for Stout -- and Coe -- could be less than a week, with the Tennessee Supreme Court then setting a new execution date. Barring any further appeals or stays, Coe could be the first person executed in Tennessee in 40 years.

A last glimpse of a child

The last time Stout saw Cary Ann, her first child, was Saturday, Sept. 1, 1979. Stout, who was pregnant with another child, can still see her leaving the house. "We were going to have company for dinner," Stout recalled. "She bounced down the stairs and said she was going out to ride her bike for a half-hour. She was always a bubbly little thing." Cary Ann left with her brother, Michael. When they didn't return, Stout's husband went out to look for the children. He found Michael, then only 6 years old, standing alone on the side of a road holding both bikes.

Conned into car

Stout said that Coe saw the children, stopped his car and "conned" her daughter into the car with him. "He talked to her, got her name, her daddy's name and kept talking to her," Stout said. "He called my husband by name, and she was just 8 years old and didn't realize that she had just told him the information." It was then that Coe drove her to a remote area and raped her, prosecutors said. Coe later told investigators that after he sexually assaulted her, Cary Ann told him that Jesus loved him. In confessing to the murder, Coe said he became angry and described to police in detail how he stabbed her in the neck with a pocketknife. "She had these huge brown eyes that could see into people's hearts," Stout said. "She looked into him and saw what other people couldn't see." Coe was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death in 1981. The trial was moved to Shelby County because of worries that Coe could not get a fair trial. While Coe's defenders claim he is mentally ill, prosecutors believe he's faking insanity.

Old soul in young body

Every time Stout reads or hears about her daughter, the words "raped and murdered" are mentioned or written next to her child's name. She wants Cary Ann to be remembered as a loving human being, not by the way she died. "They focus on the horrible way she died," Stout said. "The best way to describe her was just an old soul in a young body. She was compassionate and had a love for life." Stout said it was just like her daughter to say "Jesus loves you" to a man about to kill her. That's why she wanted to speak, on the eve of Coe's scheduled execution, at a memorial service for Cary Ann at Centennial Park in Nashville. The park has a garden commemorating murdered children. The service was scheduled for 5:30 p.m., which would have been 7 1/2 hours before Coe's execution. Everyone was asked to bring a flower to remember Cary Ann and Coe's name wasn't even going to be mentioned. But when the call from the attorney general's office came that morning, Stout said she could not go to the service.

On a tightrope

She now feels she is on a tightrope again. Another appeal. Another panel of judges that could rule either way. Another stay for Coe. "I hope they act rationally and don't completely throw the case out so we have to start all over again," she said. But she said she understands the appeals court wanting to make sure the state's competency laws are fair. If Coe is once again scheduled to die, Stout said she would be able to plan another day for the memorial.


State v. Coe, 655 S.W.2d 903 (Tenn. 1983) (Direct Appeal).

The victim, Cary Medlin, eight years of age, lived in Greenfield, Tennessee with her mother Charlotte Medlin Stout, her step-father Mickey Stout, and her step-brother Michael Stout, also eight years of age. On Saturday September 1, 1979, Labor Day Weekend, Cary and Michael went riding on their bicycles about 5:30 P.M.

Defendant was living in McKenzie, Tennessee, and working at a body shop. His wife and baby had gone to Dresden, approximately fifteen miles from McKenzie to visit his wife's sister, Vicky Box. When defendant got off work that Saturday afternoon he drove toward McKenzie to join his wife and baby. Because a bridge was out on the Liberty Road, his route to Dresden was through Greenfield. When defendant arrived in Greenfield, he began looking around for someone to "flash" at because he "had had the urge to flash all day but could not find anyone to flash at."

Defendant drove into the parking lot of a church in the neighborhood where the victim lived and parked. Soon he saw Cary and Michael on their bicycles, left the parking lot, pulled along side of them, and asked Cary to show him where her father lived. Margaret Stout, Mickey Stout's mother, lived on the street directly behind her son's house, and Cary and Michael had just paid her a visit, looking for some candy. Shortly thereafter she was looking out the window as she talked on the telephone and saw her grandson and Cary standing by their bicycles and talking to a man in a car she described as a two-toned brown four door, the top being darker than the bottom.

Defendant induced Cary and Michael to follow him, apparently from in front of Margaret Stout's house to the church parking lot. Cary got in the car with defendant and told Michael to watch her bicycle. Defendant drove around until he found a lonely, deserted gravel road that led nowhere and was well screened by trees with a fence row on each side.

Defendant's September 7, 1979 statement related that he stopped the car, exposed *906 himself to Cary, fondled her, starting masturbating and got on top of her, but that he did not know if his penis went into her or not. Defendant stated that when he finished his sex act, Cary told him that Jesus loved him, and he got so upset he decided to kill her. First, he tried to choke her to death with his hands but although she got blue in the face, she would not die. He then stabbed her in the neck with his pocket knife. After watching her bleed, "struggle and jerk" for a while, he left her beside the road in a dense thicket and drove away.

Local and state police were notified early Saturday evening that Cary was missing, and at first they thought she might have been kidnapped for ransom, but after receiving no demand for ransom, on Sunday afternoon an intensive search of the area was conducted and her body discovered about 2:00 P.M., approximately two miles from the town of Greenfield.

According to Donald Box, defendant's brother-in-law, defendant arrived at the Box home in Dresden about 7:45 or 8:00 P.M. Saturday night. He was driving a 1972 Ford Torino, was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs but was nervous, seemed to have something on his mind and said to his brother-in-law, "Donnie, I would be better off dead."

Defendant, his wife, and child, returned to McKenzie on Sunday, September 2, but they spent Sunday night and Monday night with friends, Janet and Darrell Ross who lived in the Big Buck community about ten miles from McKenzie. Janet Ross testified that after visiting earlier in the day they came back about 10:00 P.M. Defendant told them that he was in trouble with the law; that he and his cousin had gone to Camden to get some marijuana and some acid; that his cousin had shot a state trooper; and that defendant had stabbed one in the throat.

On Monday, Labor Day, at defendant's request, Janet Ross and defendant's wife bought some hair dye and that night dyed defendant's hair black. He had been described by witnesses as having dirty blond hair, shoulder length. On Tuesday morning, defendant went to a used car dealership in Gleason, Tennessee and traded his 1972 Ford Torino, silver gray with a brown vinyl top, for a 1972 blue Mustang. Later that day Margaret Stout and Michael Stout were driven to the premises of the Gleason dealer where they identified the Torino as the vehicle that had been in Greenfield on Saturday afternoon and that Cary had entered and departed the church parking lot.

Barry Jones, owner of Crestview Motors, the Gleason used car dealer, testified that he had sold the 1972 four-door Ford Torino, silver/gray with brown vinyl top, to defendant in June of 1979. His wife, Althea Jones, did all of the paperwork connected with her husband's used car business.

She testified that she wrote up the June sale of the Ford Torino to defendant and that she remembered that he had dirty blond hair at that time; that she saw him again on the morning of September 4, and wrote up the trade of the Torino for the blue Mustang at approximately 10:00 A.M.; that she noticed that his hair had been dyed black; that there were black smudge marks on his forehead; and that it was an obviously sloppy dye job.

She testified that her husband left while she was writing up the papers and that after defendant and his friend left, the chief-of-police of Gleason came by and asked if they had traded cars with anyone. She told him about the trade with defendant and showed him the Ford Torino. The police chief made a telephone call and then requested that the Ford Torino be locked up and not shown to anyone except law officers. Mrs. Jones testified that shortly thereafter the place was "covered up with law officers" looking at the car and that a lady and a little boy came by and were shown the car by the law officers.

Darrell Ross was with defendant when he traded the gray-brown Torino for the blue Mustang Tuesday morning, when defendant went to the bus station in Huntingdon to buy a bus ticket that afternoon and still *907 later when defendant returned to the bus station to leave for Marietta, Georgia. Defendant was arrested at the Huntingdon bus station.

Defendant had identification tags on his baggage and the name thereon was James Watson. Agent Daniel and Inspector Blackwell transported defendant from Huntingdon to the Weakley County Jail in Dresden. Daniel testified that they did not question defendant during the trip; that when they arrived and turned defendant over to the sheriff, they went down the hall, spoke briefly to the District Attorney seeking to find out if defendant's wife had been interrogated, then returned to the sheriff's office where defendant asked to talk to Daniel in private.

This occurred seven or eight minutes after their arrival at the Weakley County Jail. When Daniel and defendant were alone, defendant said, "I did it," and in response to the question, "You did what, Robert?" he said, "I am the one that killed that little girl." With Inspector Blackwell also present, defendant then consented to talk to Daniel on tape. The tape recording was played in open court in the presence and hearing of the jury and revealed that the questioning began at 7:49 P.M. on September 4, 1979, at the Weakley County Jail.

Defendant's responses to Daniel's questions revealed that he went to Greenfield, saw a little girl and a little boy on bicycles; that he stopped them and told her that he was looking for her daddy in order to lure her into the car with him, having been unsuccessful in several attempts at flashing; that he drove and that the little girl and boy rode their bicycles to a church where she left her bicycle and got in the car with him and they drove away from the church.

Those details were identical to those related by little Michael Stout. In the taped statement he also told of driving around until he "found that gravel road;" that after he had raped the little girl and she told him that Jesus loved him, he choked her and stabbed her with his pocket knife.

The next day, September 5, 1979, Daniel and Blackwell went to the Weakley County Jail, read defendant his rights again, and he agreed to accompany them in a State car and show them what he did on the previous Saturday afternoon. Defendant directed the officers to the church in Greenfield where the victim got in his car and along the route he took from the church to the murder scene, that is, the gravel lane off Bean Switch Road. While on that route defendant pointed out a house that was close to the road that he had passed on Saturday with the victim in the car and that led to a ball park where he turned around and came back by the same house.

He told Daniel that there was a man sitting on the porch that "will remember me or my car." Herbert Clement, aged eighty-five, testified that he lived in that house about a mile out of Greenfield; that he was sitting on his porch between 5:30 and 6:00 P.M. on Saturday afternoon, September 1, 1979, when a car drove by going south to the ball park and then came back by going north; that he recognized the little girl passenger because he had seen her riding her bicycle on previous occasions; and that he identified the victim, Cary Medlin, from her photograph as the passenger in the car. He was unable to describe the car or to describe the man driving it.

Doctor James Spencer Bell, a board certified pathologist and Chief Deputy, Shelby County and State Medical Examiner, testified that he performed an autopsy on the body of Cary Medlin on September 3 and 4, 1979.

He found evidence of manual strangulation and a stab wound to the neck that cut the carotid artery and jugular vein, either of which could have produced death. It was his opinion that both the strangulation and the stabbing were applied while Cary was alive, that she "lived a short time after the application of these two and death then resulted." He found "a laceration of the hymenal ring and a tear and abrasion extending up the vaginal canal into the *908 internal aspects of the body."

Bruises and lacerations were also found in the anal area and swabs were taken from both the vaginal and anal areas. He testified that the bruises and lacerations in the vaginal and anal areas were "live" lesions that were inflicted prior to death. A forensic serologist testified that she analyzed the swabs taken by Dr. Bell from the body of the victim and found the presence of spermatozoa upon testing the matter upon the vaginal and anal swabs.


Murder victim Cary Ann Medlin, 1979.


Convicted killer Robert Glen Coe, at trial, 1981.



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