Crime & Courts

Sister says man would not hurt baby

Last Monday night, Robin Boggess went to the rental house her brother shared with his girlfriend to watch her favorite team, the Denver Broncos, play the San Diego Chargers.

But what Boggess encountered on that west Wichita cul-de-sac was a gut-wrenching emergency and an outcome that makes no sense to her.

Her brother was arrested in the death of a 15-month-old boy.

The 34-year-old Wichita woman arrived at the house on West Renee Court, near Maple and Ridge Road, about 8:15 p.m. It was a full house, including Boggess and her two teenage sons, her 25-year-old brother and his 6-year-old son, and his girlfriend and her 3-year-old daughter and 15-month-old son, Evan Coen.

This is what Boggess said she remembers: Evan was in a walker in the living room, and he seemed "very lethargic."

Her brother asked her to look at Evan because he was acting sick and had thrown up earlier. She checked Evan, but he was not warm to the touch. She told her brother to watch for a fever.

Boggess lifted Evan out of the walker, and his head rested on her shoulder before she laid him on a couch pillow, on his side in case he threw up. She rubbed his back, trying to comfort him.

Her brother picked Evan up and took him downstairs because of the racket in the living room, where the Monday Night Football game was on TV.

"Denver was scoring, so we were being loud," Boggess said.

Her brother's girlfriend was getting the other two young children ready for bed and was going up and down the stairs. The master bedroom and Evan's bedroom are in the basement.

Suddenly, her brother "came running up the stairs," Boggess recalled. He was yelling.

Something was wrong with Evan, her brother said: "He's not breathing, he's not breathing. Somebody please help me. He's not breathing."

At that point, she said, "everybody started freaking out."

She called 911 and told the dispatcher: "The baby's not breathing. We need an ambulance."

Evan's mother grabbed the phone and spoke to the dispatcher.

It had been 16 years since Boggess took a CPR class, but she tried to resuscitate him.

Someone remembered that a neighbor down the street had an emergency medical job. Boggess told her teenage sons to run over and get that person. A man and woman rushed over from that house and took turns trying to help Evan.

Boggess said she tried to comfort her brother and his girlfriend.

She heard sirens in the distance, then close. A fire truck and ambulance pulled up.

Her brother "was hysterical" and was shouting: "Please help him.... Don't let him die."

The emergency workers said they found a pulse and were going to take Evan to the hospital. Her brother calmed down enough so that they let him ride with Evan in the ambulance.

That was around 9 p.m. Monday.

By 3 a.m. Tuesday, police had arrested her brother. The Eagle is not naming him because no charge has been filed against him.

Evan arrived in "very critical condition" at Wesley Medical Center, police said. He stayed on life support.

Police learned from doctors that Evan had suffered skull fractures and other injuries, including a broken leg. The injuries appeared to have occurred at different times.

He was pronounced dead shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday. He became the second child homicide victim in Wichita this year, a year after the city recorded eight child homicides.

Police said they planned to present evidence about Evan's death to the District Attorney's Office on Monday. The prosecutors will decide whether to file charges.

Boggess' brother remained in jail Saturday on suspicion of murder and child abuse. He was being held under a $350,000 bond.

Boggess defended her brother.

"He would not hurt that baby or any baby. He loved those kids," she said. "He became an instant dad and loved them from the time he moved in over there."

Evan's father, Alan Coen, died in a car accident in March.

"And you could tell that they (Evan and his 3-year-old sister) loved him," Boggess said. "Evan... he would light up" when her brother came around him.

Boggess said her brother has worked for a disaster restoration business and travels a lot. "He wasn't home a lot," she said.

She has talked with her brother by phone since he was arrested.

"He's just pretty much in shock that they could accuse him of hurting someone that he loved so much," she said.

Cindy Miles, Evan's maternal grandmother, said she and her daughter "had never seen him be anything but loving to those kids. She (her daughter, Evan's mother) cannot bring herself to believe he would ever do anything to that baby."

"I did not see him a lot with the kids," Miles said, "but when I did, he just seemed a loving, caring parent."

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