Trial set for man accused of killing, burying girlfriend in Modesto

05/15/2014 2:17 PM

05/15/2014 6:33 PM

A judge on Thursday scheduled a trial to start March 9 for a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend and burying her body in a shallow grave in Modesto.

Anthony Coxum is charged with murder in the death of 28-year-old Eldoris Graham, along with an enhancement of using a knife in the crime. During a brief hearing Thursday morning, Coxum pleaded not guilty to the charge and denied the knife enhancement.

Graham’s body was unearthed from the shallow grave under a pedestrian bridge at Creekwood Drive and Claus Road, near Johansen High School in east Modesto. Investigators testified in the preliminary hearing that she was stabbed five times in her face, neck and chest.

Coxum remains in custody with his bail set at $5 million. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley scheduled the defendant to return to court Sept. 5 for a pretrial hearing.

The attorneys told the judge that they estimate the trial next year will last about three or four weeks.

Coxum was the last person to have seen Graham on Dec. 13, 2012, and he told different stories about what they did together before she went missing.

Graham was missing for about a month before her body was found. Coxum was arrested in North Carolina on an unrelated charge about two weeks after his girlfriend went missing. He had driven to North Carolina in Graham’s beige Pontiac Bonneville. He was arrested in August on suspicion of killing Graham.

A forensic pathologist said the stab wounds to Graham’s jugular vein and her lung would have caused extensive bleeding. There were a few superficial cuts on Graham’s left hand to indicate there was a struggle and that she tried to defend herself when she was stabbed.

Investigators did not find any fingerprints on the duct tape wrapped around Graham’s head, neck and hands. They also did not find traces of her blood at Graham’s Tully Road apartment or Coxum’s father’s home, where a struggle could have taken place.

A longtime friend of Coxum’s, Frederick Elliott, told a detective that Coxum said he killed his girlfriend and that she had tried to steal money from Coxum, according to testimony. The detective testified he didn’t find evidence that supported the claim that Graham had tried to take $1,000 from Coxum.

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