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KLAPHEKE TRIAL: Did ex-husband's mother take out insurance policy before toddler's death?

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Doug Myers, Digital Media Manager, dmyers@ktxs.com
Published On: Feb 07 2014 02:22:48 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 08 2014 06:06:26 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

Defense attorney George Parnham minced no words Friday while questioning the ex-husband of 23-year-old Tiffany Klapheke, who is on trial for severe neglect of toddler daughter Tamryn befor child died.

Parnham asked Thomas Klapheke about a life insurance policy that Thomas’ mother allegedly took out on Tamryn before Thomas voluntarily deployed and before the child’s August 2012 death.

Prosecutors objected to that question – and Thomas wasn’t required to answer.

Parnham also asked Thomas if he got any insurance compensation from the military after Tamryn’s death, another question that he wasn’t mandated to answer.

The trial entered it 10th day Friday.

Meanwhile, Tiffany Klapheke became emotional during her ex-husband’s testimony, rocking back and forth in her chair and crying as he answered questions.

Prosecutors objected to Klapheke crying because they said it was distracting for the six-man, six-woman jury.

“I’ll get it together,” Klapheke promised District Judge Lee Hamilton.

Previously at the trial, when a phone conversation was played between her and adoptive mom Tina Romano, Klapheke said it would be hard to see Thomas in court.

Meanwhile, District Judge Lee Hamilton ruled Friday that Tiffany Gann - one of the three former Child Protective Services workers who have asked not to testify - will be required to testify but that she can't be questioned about her affair with Thomas Klapheke.

The requests to not testify come at a time when CPS continues to face scrutiny for the agency’s handling of the Klapheke case.

Attorneys for Gann, an ex-CPS investigator, and former CPS supervisors Bit Whitaker and Gretchen Denny had asked that their subpoenas to testify be quashed. Hamilton hasn't ruled on the requests by Whitaker and Denny.

Court documents show Gann’s relationship with Thomas lasted six to eight weeks.

Outside the presence of the jury and during a hearing to determine whether she should testify, Gann broke down into tears. She asked for a break after the defense got specific on when her intimacy with Thomas began.

Gann said she met Thomas at Cabo's bar in September 2012, but not when she was involved in the CPS investigation into Tamryn’s death.

Gann said she realized who Thomas was when she and her CPS friends started playing darts with him and his friends at Cabo's.

Meanwhile, Whitaker and Denny are persons of interest in the criminal investigation of CPS supervisors that began in 2012 following Tamryn's death.

Their attorneys said it is risky for them to testify in the Klapheke case because it is not yet clear what charges are being considered against them. 

Meanwhile, Gann's attorney Jeff Probst has alleged the defense just wants to use Gann to deflect blame from Klapheke since the affair began after Tamryn's death.

The defense believes Gann and Thomas Klapheke talked about Tamryn's death and his role in the home during their alleged relationship – and that Gann was present during the death investigation.

The revelation of the alleged improper relationship involving Klapheke and Gann was reported to CPS leaders on May 23, 2013. The relationship allegedly occurred “in the fall of 2012,” CPS officials said.

Thomas Klapheke, a Dyess airman who was deployed at the time of his daughter’s death, later filed for divorce. Two other Klapheke daughters – who were 3 and 6 months old – were hospitalized after being found in poor condition.

Gann and CPS caseworker Rebecca Tapia were assigned to the Klapheke case. While Gann resigned, Tapia stepped down after officials determined she was aware of Gann’s alleged relationship with Thomas Klapheke, state CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins has said.

Two other CPS specialists Slade King and Megan Schweigert were reprimanded for being aware of and not disclosing the alleged relationship, CPS officials said. The two, however, never worked on the Klapheke case, according to CPS.