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KLAPHEKE TRIAL: Surviving daughter was near death when sister found dead, doctor testifies

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Doug Myers, Digital Media Manager, dmyers@ktxs.com
Published On: Feb 05 2014 10:48:36 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2014 02:17:54 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

The youngest of accused mother Tiffany Klapheke’s three daughters was on the verge of death when sister Tamryn was found dead in August 2012, a Fort Worth-based child abuse specialist testified Wednesday.

“I seriously don’t think she (the youngest child who was 6 months old at the time) would have lived another day,” said Dr. Jayme Coffman, a pediatrician and director of the care team at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Coffman examined Tamryn's two sisters in late August 2012 – after Klapheke found Tamryn unresponsive and her siblings in pitiful shape at the Klapheke home on Dyess Air Force Base. Then-husband Thomas was deployed.

Klapheke, 23, is facing injury to a child charges in connection with toddler daughter Tamryn’s August 2012 death. Authorities have said her 22-month-old child died from malnutrition and dehydration.

Her two young sisters were also reportedly malnourished and dehydrated but survived. Each of the three Klapheke girls also reportedly suffered chemical burns, believed to be the result of feces on their bodies.

Of the oldest Klapheke child's chemical burns, Coffman said: "This was way beyond a diaper rash. It was like a second-degree burn." The oldest child was age 3 at the time of Tamryn's death.

Coffman said oldest Klapheke child wasn't at risk of immediate death like the youngest child. According to Coffman, the youngest child looked "emaciated."

Meanwhile, a former supervisor over Thomas Klapheke at Dyess AFB said he offered to babysit the children four days before Tamryn died – and Tiffany Klapheke reportedly said she didn't need help.

The Klapheke trial entered its eighth day Wednesday.

Previous story:

Tiffany Klapheke’s adoptive mother can be called as a defense witness despite prosecution’s claim Klapheke’s calls to her from jail – since the trial began – violated a rule prohibiting witnesses from speaking about the case.

That’s according to District Judge Lee Hamilton, who listened to prosecutors and Klapheke’s defense attorneys before making the decision.

Klapheke, 23, is facing injury to a child charges in connection with toddler daughter Tamryn’s August 2012 death. Authorities have said her 22-month-old child died from malnutrition and dehydration.

Prosecutors allege the witness rule was violated when Klapheke called Tina Romano, who lives in Kentucky, last Thursday – during the fourth day of the trial – and on Saturday and Sunday.

During the phone conversations, Klapheke and Romano talked about another media outlet's unfair news coverage and about Tamryn's autopsy photos.

In one part of the calls, Klapheke speculated about tampering of evidence in her case, alleging the prosecution may have motive.