NEWS 5 INVESTIGATES: Murder suspect’s criminal history

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — News 5 dug deeper into the criminal past of Trent Yates.

The 27-year old is charged with the murder of 21-year old Matthew Cox, an autistic man. 

“We have not filed anything yet but we anticipate doing that fairly soon,” said Dean Waite, the attorney for the Cox family.

Waite says he and the family are looking at anything and everything surrounding Cox’s murder.

The Mobile Police incident report says Cox died after an assault using hands, fists and feet.

“This case is gut-wrenching because you have someone who is not capable of doing things for themselves and certainly not capable of defending themselves against a violent perpetrator,” District Attorney Ashley Rich told News 5 Wednesday.

Yates has been arrested in the past on numerous charges, including assault in 2014.

Rich tells News 5 that was a fist fight. “He was charged with striking that person in the face and kicking that person.”

That second-degree assault charge was later reduced to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Rich says he pleaded guilty.

Then in 2012, he was arrested for theft of property. Prior to that in 2010, he was arrested for domestic violence. 

“It’s also disturbing he could be working in that position with the number of criminal arrests and priors he has,” said Rick. 

News 5 went out Wednesday to get an answer to that question. We headed to the office of, ‘New Way Out Corporation,’ which according to the incident report, runs the group home Cox stayed at.

We went to the office to ask questions but we were told repeatedly, “no comment.”

Also on the incident report was the address of the group home. We headed there but no one answered the door.

The Cox family issued the following statement Wednesday through its attorney, “Our entire family would like to thank the community for its thoughts, prayers and expressions of love for Matthew. Matthew was an ‘angel in human clothing’ who left a positive impact on every life he touched. Matthew loved everyone and everyone loved Matthew. His entire life was marked by the innocence and affection that only a child can have. We will miss him dearly. We ask that you continue to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers in coming days. In Matthew’s honor, please consider making a donation to the Autism Society of Alabama. Thank you.”

The family’s attorney says there needs to be accountability. “The family really wants to make sure nothing else like this happens. There were failures at multiple levels to allow something like this to occur.”
Trent Yates remains in Mobile Metro Jail after pleading not guilty to his charges. 

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