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April 29, 2014

Hearing begins for man accused of girlfriend’s fatal stabbing in Modesto

A preliminary hearing began Tuesday for a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend and burying her in a shallow grave in southeast Modesto.

A preliminary hearing began Tuesday for a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend and burying her in a shallow grave in southeast Modesto.

During 30 minutes of testimony, two witnesses described how Anthony Coxum’s story changed when he recounted the last day he was known to have been with his girlfriend, Eldoris Graham. Her body was found in January 2013, a month after her disappearance, buried under the footbridge at Creekwood Drive and Claus Road. She had been stabbed in the chest, and her arms and legs were bound with duct tape.

Graham’s mother and her best friend, Christine Perry, both reported her missing.

Modesto police officer Troy Cross testified that while he took the report from Perry, she received a phone call from Coxum. Cross instructed Perry to put her phone on speaker and coached her by writing down questions for her to ask Coxum.

Perry asked twice about what he and Graham did the last day she was known to have been alive, Dec. 13, 2012.

Cross testified that Coxum first told Perry that they had gone to the movies and then to Applebee’s before Graham had driven him to Oakland and dropped him off. Later in the phone conversation, Coxum’s story changed. Coxum told Perry they had gotten food from Panda Express and had eaten it at a laundromat, Cross testified.

During the conversation, Coxum said to Perry, “It’s not like I kidnapped her or anything,” Cross testified.

Community service officer Bonn Panyanouvong, who took the initial missing person report from Graham’s mother, said she talked to Coxum by phone three days after he’d talked with Perry. Panyanouvong testified that Coxum gave yet another account: that he had dropped off Graham in Oakland on the day in question.

Panyanouvong testified that Coxum agreed to meet with Graham’s mother the day after their phone conversation, but he did not show up for the meeting.

Coxum was arrested a week later in North Carolina. He was booked on a probation violation and was in possession of Graham’s car, according to authorities.

Coxum remained incarcerated in North Carolina as he fought extradition, but he was charged in August with killing Graham and brought back to California the following month.

His preliminary hearing will continue this morning in Stanislaus Superior Court.

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