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In memoriam: Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, 1981-2022

Prominent attorney played key role in notorious 'stand your ground' case in 2018.

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  • | 10:00 a.m. April 21, 2022
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Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, a Tampa defense attorney who ran her own practice for several years before joining the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office in January, died April 11 at age 41. She had battled metastatic breast cancer for five years.

Coy was a rising star in the area legal community thanks to her prominent role in high-profile cases such as that of Michael Drejka, a white man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed Black man, at a Clearwater convenience store in July 2018 during an argument over a parking space. The case — a test of Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law — drew national attention and led Coy, of Haitian-African descent, to endure criticism because of her role as a member of Drejka’s defense team.

At the time, Coy admitted to being taken aback by the disparagement. She ultimately shrugged it off, even after Drejka was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“She took on things that might not have been popular,” states Grady Irvin, a friend and mentor, in Coy’s official obituary. “However, she believed in our Constitution and that everyone, regardless of circumstance or station in life, was entitled to legal representation.”

Coy stepped away from private practice in early 2020 as her battle with cancer intensified. Yet she remained involved with organizations such as the George Edgecomb Bar Association and the Tampa Mayor’s African American Advisory Council. She also served as a hearing officer and Civil Service Board attorney for the City of Tampa.

At the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, she served as supervising attorney for the office’s Conviction Review Unit, which seeks to identify, remedy and prevent wrongful convictions.

“We all know that the justice system has had its flaws,” Coy stated in a Jan. 10 news release about her CRU appointment. “So, the ability to be able to get into this and try to correct some of those errors — whether they were intentional or unintentional — is really a dream job for me and a great culmination of my life’s work so far.”

Coy is survived by her husband, Travis Coy, a prosecutor for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, and a young son, Thaddeus.


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