Trial begins for man accused of killing girlfriend’s 8-year-old son, leaving remains in abandoned Houston area home

Brian Coulter is on trial today accused of killing his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son, Kendrick Lee, and letting his body decompose for nearly a year.

Here’s a look back at what happened in this tragic case from the Houston area that captured headlines across the country.

RELATED: Death of child whose remains found in west Harris County apartment ruled homicide

What happened?

Harris County Sheriff’s deputies were sent around 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2021, to conduct a welfare check at the apartment located at 3535 Green Crest after the 15-year-old called and said his younger brother had been dead for a year in the apartment.

When deputies arrived, they found the three boys living in horrid conditions, and sadly, evidence of what the teen described.

According to court documents read aloud during a probable cause hearing, Brian Coulter, the boyfriend of the children’s mother, fatally beat the boy to death in front of his siblings. The boys said Coulter struck the eight-year-old in the face, feet, buttocks, back, legs and groin and that Coulter continued to kick and hit the boy after he had stopped moving. The seven-year-old said that he stared at his older brother’s face while Coulter was kicking and hitting him and at some point, during the beating, his brother stopped blinking.

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said the child died from homicidal violence and suffered multiple blunt force injuries.

RELATED: 3 children, including skeletal remains of possible 9-year-old, found inside abandoned apartment in west Harris County, sheriff confirms

What happened after Kendrick died?

The three brothers, ages 15, 10 and 7, were left alone in an apartment for months, while the body of their 9-year-old brother was decaying inside another room in the home. HCSO Sheriff Ed Gonzalez noted the children were living in squalid conditions and it appeared they had been fending for themselves for some time.

“Very horrific situation out here, very tragic,” Gonzalez said during a news conference Sunday. “Been in this business a long time and I had never heard of a scenario like this. It really caught me by surprise.”

What were the charges?

The mother of the children, Gloria Y. Williams, 35, has been charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence (corpse). Her boyfriend, Coulter, has been charged with murder in the death of the Williams’ child, whose skeletal remains were found in the apartment, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. Authorities said Williams and Coulter had been together for several years. At some point in the relationship, Coulter began beating the children on a consistent basis.

‘Too horrific to be real’: Court docs say 2 kids saw brother’s beating death -- just one disturbing revelation uncovered in west Harris County abandonment case

Why is the trial by a judge and not a jury?

Coulter has chosen an unconventional path and opted to waive his right to a jury trial. Originally scheduled for February, Coulter’s capital murder trial will be presided over by Judge Kelli Johnson, who will decide punishment based on the chilling evidence regarding the child’s death.

What’s next for the mother, Gloria Williams?

Williams is set to appear in court next on April 12 and her fate will be decided by a jury.

RELATED: See something, say something: This is how to report suspicions of child neglect, abuse

About the Authors

Holly joined the KPRC 2 digital team in March 2024, leveraging her eight years of expertise in blogging and digital content to share her passion for Houston. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring the city's vibrant scenes, all while balancing her roles as a wife and mother to two toddlers.

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.

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