Falsely accused of murdering his daughter, Campbell Co. man talks about ordeal

Falsely accused of murdering his daughter, Campbell Co. man talks about ordeal

Will Coltharp spent 63 days in jail falsely accused of murdering his daughter. Will Coltharp spent 63 days in jail falsely accused of murdering his daughter.

June 13, 2007

By AMELIA DANIELS
6 News Reporter

CAMPBELL COUNTY (WATE) -- A Campbell County man spent 63 days behind bars falsely accused of murdering his two-year-old daughter.

Tabitha Patterson Coltharp died on November 24, 2006. It was the day after Thanksgiving.      

Campbell County deputies arrested her father, Will Coltharp, the day after her funeral on November 30.     

Sheriff Gary Perkins told 6 News that day Tabitha had overdosed on her father's painkillers. 

Because he was charged with first degree murder, Coltharp was not released from jail. He spent all of December and January behind bars.

On February 1, Coltharp was finally released on his own recognizance because the preliminary autopsy revealed Tabitha died from natural causes.

"I was just in my cell one day, when my attorney walked up to the door and looked at me and said, 'How would you like to get out of here?'" Coltharp says.

Coltharp adds he had never been more relieved.

The autopsy found no evidence of any prescription drugs in Tabitha's system.  Instead, the cause of death was a bronchial asthma attack.     

"All they had to do was follow their own advice and wait for the autopsy," says Coltharp's attorney, Greg Isaacs. He is representing Coltharp in a possible lawsuit.     

Isaacs says the Campbell County sheriff and investigators were overzealous at best. "This sheriff and these investigators got on television, got in the paper in this person's community, and said things we now know are not true."

As a result, Isaacs says, his client is left with nothing.

"I lost my job and my home," Coltharp says.

Coltharp says he doesn't want anyone else to go through what he's endured for the last seven months.

"I hate to think this would be my life-defining moment to be known for and remembered by, 'Oh, that was the fellow that, you know, was accused of murdering his daughter.'"

On May 22, the day Coltharp's trial was supposed to begin, the judge made it official and dismissed all charges against him.

Sheriff Perkins says he does not have any comment about the case.

Campbell County's attorney, Joe Coker, is reviewing the case. He was unreachable by phone Wednesday.

Depending on the county's response, Coltharp may file a lawsuit seeking damages.

 

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