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Crime & Courts

No parole for murderer of Polk tot Bradley McGee


Published:   |   Updated: April 17, 2013 at 02:25 PM
TALLAHASSEE -

Thomas Coe, the man convicted for the infamous 1989 Lakeland murder of his stepston, 2-year-old Bradley McGee, won't be eligible for parole for another 71 years.

The Florida Parole Commission heard Coe's case Wednesday and set what is called a "presumptive release date" for July 2084.

Coe, 46, who was given a life sentence, has been in prison since August 1990 and must serve a mandatory minimum of 25 years.

Coe's then-wife testified that she stood by while Coe punished the boy for soiling his pants by lifting him by his ankles and repeatedly slamming him head-first into a toilet bowl.

Bradley died the next day of head injuries. A medical examiner counted more than 90 cuts and bruises on the boy.

Coe's now ex-wife was convicted of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison and released after serving nine years.

The case sparked an overhaul of Florida's child-protection laws.

The Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, then the state's child protective agency, placed the boy in a foster home after Sheryl and Thomas Coe abandoned him at a Lakeland mall. Two years later, the Coes decided they wanted Bradley back.

A judge accepted the recommendation of an HRS caseworker to return him to the Coes despite the objections of the foster parents. Two months later, Bradley was dead.

Legislators passed the Bradley McGee Act in November 1989, providing $48 million to improve child welfare services.

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