Dec. 18, 2013 — A jury trial began last Tuesday in the case of Clifford “Boomer” Cathey, the Grayson man accused of manslaughter in the 2012 New Years' Day beating death of Heath Toney.
Throughout one day of jury selection and two and a half days of testimony, stories changed, a star witness accused the prosecution of intimidation, and the accused rejected a plea agreement.
Madeline Couvertier, who was Toney's girlfriend at the time of his death, was the first to take the stand.
She testified that she had been at a party in her home with Toney on New Year's Eve. After ringing in the new year, they had gone with friends to pick up Cathey and Brian Rice.
Couvertier testified that Cathey and Toney had immediate tension because Cathey had been “disrespectful and flirtatious.”
She testified that Rice had tried to diffuse the situation between Cathey and Toney and that he (Rice) had accompanied the couple and another woman, Margaret Nelson, on a walk after a confrontation at the party.
During the walk she and Toney began arguing, she told the jury, at which point they were approached by Cathey.
According to Couvertier, Rice “sucker punched” Toney and then Cathey kicked him in the head.
“Heath looked at Brian and said 'really dude?',” Couvertier said, breaking down in tears. “Those were the last words he ever spoke. When Mr. Cathey kicked him in the head, Heath made the most God-awful sound I have ever heard in my life and he never woke up.”
Couvertier said Toney was kicked a second time, but couldn't say for sure which man dealt the blow.
“I put my body over his to try and keep them from hurting him more,” she said. “He was convulsing and making a horrible noise. After the second kick I looked up and they were both running away.”