Friday, March 20, 2009

Manslaughter suspect serves in military

Cody Stevens was raised by his grandparents near Richfield

Express Staff Writer

Cody William Stevens

A Twin Falls man charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death earlier this month of a well-known Hailey woman has served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy and is now in the Army Reserves.

According to a "service verification" document released to the Idaho Mountain Express by the Army, 28-year-old Cody William Stevens was on active duty from Nov. 19, 1999, until March 6, 2000. No explanation was provided for the short term of service. The document also states "no deployment" and "no awards in record."

The record further states that Stevens re-enlisted in the Army Reserves on June 2, 2008, and that his military service obligation expires on June 1, 2016. His rank is a specialist and he is listed as a construction equipment operator in the 5th Platoon, 786th Quartermaster Company, 311th Sustainment Command, headquartered in Provo, Utah.

The Idaho Mountain Express was unable to verify dates of service for Stevens in the Navy. Naval Personnel Records would only confirm that he had served but would release no other information without Stevens' written consent.

Stevens is an inmate in the Blaine County jail where he's being held on $75,000 bond. A criminal complaint filed against him by the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office charges him with vehicular manslaughter, either because he was allegedly driving under the influence of an "intoxicating substance' or was grossly negligent in causing the death on March 10 of 53-year-old Bertilia Lyn Redfern.

According to police reports, Stevens swerved into the path of a vehicle driven by Redfern on state Highway 75 north of the Countryside Boulevard traffic signal in south Hailey. Police allege that Redfern swerved to avoid Stevens and was struck by another vehicle. Redfern was pronounced dead at the scene.

Stevens was mainly raised by his grandparents, Bill and Violet Coffey, who live near Richfield. The Coffeys said they believe that Stevens either fell asleep while driving or suffered a seizure.

"He was just worn out and just fell asleep is what I think happened," said Bill Coffey.

Coffey said that Stevens had just worked a 12-hour shift the evening before the fatal accident at Idaho Milk Products in Jerome.

"He's a good kid and this is just a terrible tragedy and a terrible accident and he didn't even know he caused it."

Violet Coffey said Stevens suffered a head injury in a motorcycle accident about a year ago and had suffered seizures before.

"He's on medication," she said, "but I don't know if he's been taking his seizure medication."

Violet Coffey said she and her husband mainly raised Stevens and his brother Joe, who now lives in Montana. The men's mother, Darlinda Bolling, lives in Tennessee.

"We raised Cody and his brother most of the time," she said. "It was an on-and-off-again thing, but we had him all the time after he was a freshman."

Cody Stevens graduated from Richfield School in 1999. His grandfather said Stevens was a journeyman electrician at Idaho Milk Products. Before that he worked for a short time at Roberts Electric in Hailey.

The Coffeys described Stevens as likeable and helpful.

"I may be prejudiced, but you can ask anyone in Richfield, and his good friends will tell you that he'll just do anything to help anyone," Violet Coffey said. "He's always helping people. He's always doing something for somebody. He's not vicious at all.

"My husband is 87 and I'm 78 and all we have to do is pick up the phone and call and he'll be here to help us."

"We're really proud of Cody," said Bill Coffey. "He's accomplished a lot. He was a good kid. He helped me in the shop a lot. I manufacture tools and the boys always helped me a lot."

"Everybody is really concerned about him down here," Violet Coffey added. "I feel like something just went wrong somewhere. This is a tragic thing that happened, but this could happen to you, this could happen to me, this could happen to anyone."

Terry Smith:

Bertilia Lyn Redfern

A celebration of life will be held sometime this spring for Bertilia Lyn Redfern, 53, the victim of a traffic accident on March 10. Redfern was a secretary at the Roark Law Firm in Hailey, but had a varied background that included environmental activism, the medical field and business. She was active in the Sierra Club and was an avid skier. She was affectionately known as "Bert." She leaves behind her husband, Bob, who lives in Hailey.

Bertilia Lyn Redfern

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