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Trial begins for Andrew Coffee IV, charged in death of 21-year-old girlfriend after sheriff's office raid

Suspect also accused of attempted murder of law enforcement
Andrew Coffee IV, Nov. 15 in courtroom for trial
Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 19:13:21-05

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — Testimony is underway in the Andrew Coffee IV trial in Indian River County.

He's charged in the death of his girlfriend, and the attempted murder of law enforcement after a 2017 SWAT raid that led to an exchange of gunfire.

Assistant State Attorney William Long told the jury why they were sitting across from him Monday.

"We're here today because this defendant tried to kill each of those men," said Long as he pointed at Coffee IV in the courtroom.

Opening statements in Andrew Coffee IV trial on Nov. 15, 2021
Opening statements began Monday in the trial for Andrew Coffee IV.

During opening statements, there was no argument over whether Coffee IV, known as AJ, fired at a SWAT team conducting a search warrant at a home in Gifford.

Defense attorneys counter there was justification for Coffee to defend himself.

"He was besieged with loud noises, gunfire, the sheriff's department coming, and losing the love of his life that night," said Attorney Julia Graves.

That would be 21-year-old Alteria Woods.

Alteria Woods, killed during Indian River County Sheriff's Office raid in March 2017
Alteria Woods was killed during a raid by the Indian River County Sheriff's Office in March 2017.

It was back in March 2017 when the raid was executed at the home off 35th Avenue.

The sheriff's office maintains after announcing its presence, two SWAT team members began to break a window where Coffee and Woods were sleeping.

One of those SWAT team members involved in the raid that morning showed the jury the "rake and brake" tool he used on the back window of the home.

A flash-bang device was then extended into that bedroom.

"As soon as I went to look into the window, immediately there was a muzzle flash right in front of my face," recalled Sgt. Chris Reeve on the witness stand.

Indian River County Sgt. Chris Reeve with 'rake and brake' tool, Nov. 15, 2021
Indian River County Sgt. Chris Reeve shows the jury a "rake and brake" tool during opening statements on Nov. 15, 2021.

Jurors were shown pictures of the house and saw the room where Woods was killed.

She had been shot 10 times.

"She died because this defendant chose to open fire on law enforcement," Long said.

"What you're going to hear is his concern for his girlfriend and himself caused him to shoot a weapon," Graves said.

Home in Indian River County where Alteria Woods was killed in 2017
Alteria Woods was shot and killed at this home more than four years ago during the raid.

The defense did get a win before court began as Judge Dan Vaughn ruled that a Facebook video Coffee made a month before the SWAT raid could not be shown to the jury.

In it, he made comments about law enforcement and how they've treated his family.

"[The] court finds video does not contain express threats by the defendant to kill or harm IRC deputies," Vaughn said.

The case is expected to wrap up by the end of the week.