UPDATE: Family taking legal action after group home homicide

Mobile County
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UPDATE: 10/31/2018 11:15AM

Wednesday on News 5 at 6, Mary Smith will investigate how Trent Yates was able to get a job working for the group home 21-year old Matthew Cox stayed at. 

Documents show Yates has a criminal history including arrests for second-degree assault, domestic violence and theft of property. 

He was arrested for Cox’s murder and pleaded not guilty this week. 

UNEDITED PRESS RELEASE:

MOBILE, AL (October 31, 2018) – Attorney Dean Waite of Dean Waite & Associates has been retained to represent the family of Matthew Cox, a 21-year-old man who died following alleged abuse at a group home for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill in Mobile.

“Group homes are entrusted with the care of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” said attorney Waite. “It is incumbent upon us to make sure these group homes are fulfilling their obligations to the residents for whom they are responsible.”

Cox was taken to Springhill Medical Center from the group home on Saturday, October 27 and pronounced dead upon arrival, according to WKRG 5 News. Police arrested 27-year-old Trent Yates, an employee of the group home, on charges of first-degree assault. Those charges were upgraded to murder on Monday when officials learned Cox died from blunt force trauma.

Police said that Yates had been physically and verbally abusive toward Cox before his death. According to attorney Waite, that alleged abuse could have been stopped in time to save Cox’s life.

“At this time, we believe that our investigation will show a pattern of abuse leading up to Matthew’s death,” said Waite. “Group home administrators have a responsibility both to thoroughly background check their staff before allowing them to work with residents, and to promptly and thoroughly investigate and address any allegations of abuse, including turning evidence over to police when necessary.”

Waite stated that he hopes to hold the group home accountable and have a positive impact on the group home system in Alabama.

“There are thousands of Alabamans with developmental disabilities and mental illness in group homes and other care facilities, and it is critical to hold those facilities accountable in order to protect people’s safety,” Waite said. “This is why we’re investigating a remedy through the civil justice system – this is how we keep vulnerable people safe.”

Update 12:43 PM

According to a report from MPD, the incident happened at a home on Colonial Circle North in Mobile.   The report suggests the facility is connected to “New Way Out Corporation.”  News 5 called their office on Oak Circle Drive.  A woman answering the phone said they had no comment at this time.  

Update:  11:54 AM

Family members shared pictures of the victim with News 5.

Update 10:00 AM

Trent Yates pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to a murder charge. Yates is charged with murder in the death of Matthew Cox.  We learned in court today that Yates an employee at the group home where Cox was being treated.

The judge approved a bond of $200,000.

More details to follow. 

Original Story

A man accused of murder after a death at a Mobile group home for the mentally ill is expected in court Tuesday morning.  Trent Yates, 27, is charged with murder in the death of Matthew Cox, 21.  Yates was booked into Mobile Metro Jail on Saturday and charged with assault. Those charges have since been upgraded to murder. 

Police say they were called to Springhill Medical Center Saturday night, just before midnight after Cox, a man who lived in a group home for the mentally ill, was taken there. The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police say after an investigation, it was determined Yates had been physically and verbally abusive toward the victim before the man died. It’s not clear if Yates was also a resident there or an employee.  We may get that answer later this morning at the bond hearing.  

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