Klapheke trial will cost Taylor County at least $52k

Klapheke trial costs still rising

ABILENE, Texas - As of Monday, the cost of taking the Klapheke case to trial is at least $52,429.87 for Taylor County taxpayers.

Tiffany Klapheke, 23, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Feb. 13 for neglecting her toddler, Tamryn, to the point of death on Aug. 28, 2012. Klapheke was found guilty of first degree felony injury to a child by omission Feb. 12 and could have been given a life sentence.

KTXS visited the county auditor's office Monday and obtained a copy the trial's expense spreadsheet. The spreadsheet only includes dollar amounts for what had been turned into the office by Monday. Auditors expect more invoices to be filed and the dollar amount to increase.

Klapheke's original attorneys, David Thedford and Ken Leggett, are listed as the highest expense on the spreadsheet at $27,788.69. They were court appointed.

In Sept. 2013, Klapheke's family hired George Parnham of Houston and local attorney John Young to represent her during her Feb. 2014 trial.

KTXS reached out to Scott Romano, Klapheke's stepfather, Monday to find out what costs the family incurred by hiring new legal representation.

"From a financial view, we refinanced our home and went into debt over $90,000 for her lawyers, travel and other expenses," Romano said. "We consider that money well spent even despite the outcome. We can look at ourselves and know we did our very best to protect our daughter. Monthly expenses of having someone in prison average about $250-300/month with collect phone calls, commissary funds, and other expenses. Factor in a few trips per year to visit in person also."

Romano also said he realizes the jury had a price to pay.

"The emotional toll of the jurors should not be discounted either," Romano said. "I cannot imagine reliving the pictures they saw. While I am incredibly disappointed in their decision, I respect the sacrifice they also made."

The second highest expense listed on the spreadsheet is the cost of selecting and seating the 12-person jury, in addition to two alternate jurors who sat through the entire trial. Expenses for the jury pool were listed at $15,000. It took two full days to select a jury from 96 people and the trial itself lasted 12 days.

Other costs included expert testimony ($2,457.50), witness travel expenses ($2,739.50), Tamryn's autopsy ($2,739.50), transporting Tamryn's body to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner ($452.50), the investigation ($450), video transcripts ($448.75), prosecutor travel to Cook Children's Medical Center and a medical examination ($372.40) and jury meals ($295.53).

Klapheke is currently in the Woodman prison unit in Gatesville. Since she has been in custody ever since her arrest date on Aug. 29, 2012, her projected release date is Aug. 29, 2042; however, she will be eligible for parole Aug. 29, 2027.

Klapheke has until March 15 to appeal her conviction. Both of her attorneys said she no longer plans to appeal and they have filed a motion to withdraw from the case.

Though Klapheke's case has gone to trial, some former Child Protective Services supervisors are facing a criminal investigation as a result of the Klapheke case. Abilene police investigated CPS for allegedly tampering with evidence in the case. The investigation has been handed over to a special prosecutor out of McLennan County and has not yet gone to grand jury for consideration.

KTXS will update this article when the total cost of the trial is known.

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