Retired trooper, wife facing charges after Dedham teen drowns in pool

DEDHAM, Mass. — A Dedham District Court Magistrate has ruled probable cause exists for charges to be brought against retired Mass State Police Captain James Coughlin, and his wife Leslie, for hosting the high school graduation party where 17-year-old Alonzo Polk drowned in the couple’s swimming pool.

James and Leslie Coughlin are each charged with reckless endangerment of a child, and providing alcohol to minors.

The ruling means the charges stand and the matter next moves to arraignment in district court in the next few weeks.

At the probable cause hearing, new information was released.

A Dedham Police sergeant told the court, police officers first responded to the Coughlin’s home on 36 Netta Road, just after midnight on June 6.

Polk died days after being pulled from the water.

First officers found “obviously” drunk teenagers on the property, and empty beer cans on patio tables and on the lawn near the in-ground swimming pool.

A pool light, designed for the deep end, was removed from the bottom of the pool and sitting on a towel.

The sergeant told the court magistrate the department has pictures taken at the party, among them, a photo of Alonzo Polk earlier in the night.

“I’ve also reviewed several photographs that were taken over the duration of the party. Including one that depicts the 17-year-old drowning victim sitting at a table with several empty alcohol containers in front of him,” Dedham Police Sgt. Michael Feeley testified.

Defense attorney Brian Kelly told the court magistrate that Alonzo Polk was not drinking at the party.

He said Alonzo could not swim, but alleged the teen was pushed into the pool by another guest, who also could not swim.

Kelly said James Coughlin tried to save Alonzo’s life by performing CPR until first responders arrived.

Kelly called the incident a tragic accident.

“To suggest this was unsupervised or this was some party that had run amok, is simply not true. There were plenty of adults there and, in fact he was an athlete. He was ten days shy of his 18th birthday,” Kelly said.

The court magistrate found probable cause and the case moves on.

After the hearing, Roshawn Drane, Alonzo’s brother, said he was glad the case is moving forward.

“We appreciate what happened here today. It’s one step on a long road, and I just want to make sure, on this long road, that there is justice for Alonzo,” Drane said as supporters, some wearing buttons and carrying signs, stood behind him.

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