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  1. #51
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    Oct 2010
    No outside DNA found in Coleman home

    DNA evidence found inside the Coleman home where Sheri Coleman and her two sons, Garett and Gavin, were found murdered, was linked to members of the Coleman family, according to forensic scientists who testified in the murder trial.

    Illinois State Police Forensic Scientist Michael Brown said he collected several DNA samples from the victims' fingernails and from the bedding after the May 2009 murder. On Sheri and Garett, they found another person's DNA on them, but it was consistent with that of family members. Brown said that would not be uncommon because they all lived together and had constant contact.

    "Not a single genetic marker that I identified would have to have come from outside source," Brown said.

    The defense asked Brown if the DNA could have come from an outside source.

    Brown said it was possible because certain people share some common DNA markers.

    The defense asked if investigators examined DNA samples from Keith Coleman and if it would be similar to Keith's.

    Brown said they did not examine Keith's DNA and that the brothers may have DNA similarities, but the exact profile would differ.

    It was the second time the defense has brought up Keith Coleman's name. But, investigators said he has a credible alibi. He was spotted on an ATM camera in Arkansas.

    Illinois State Police Forensic Scientist Melody Levault testified that the loose strains of hair found on the crook of Gavin's elbow and near Garett's head, were consistent to that of Sheri's hair.
    In the first week of trial, Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist, testified that he believed the three were strangled by the same ligature and that's how the hair was transferred. He believed Sheri was killed first, then the boys.

    When police arrived at the Coleman home after the murders, they found a back window opened, which they believed the killer may have used to get inside the home.

    Rick Sawdey, who works for the company that made the windows, testified that the window was not damaged and that the window has a forced entry resistance mechanism that prevents anyone from entering from the outside. He said there was no damage to the locks and it did not appear to have ever been forcefully opened.

    The prosecution could wrap its case as early as Tuesday.

    If convicted, Coleman could face the death penalty.


  2. #52
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    Coleman murder trial jurors to deliberate into second day

    Jurors will return to deliberations in court this morning in Waterloo after they met for several hours Wednesday without reaching a decision on whether Christopher Coleman strangled his wife and two sons.

    The delay increases the likelihood of delivering a verdict today, the second anniversary of the discovery of the bodies.

    Coleman, 34, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his wife, Sheri, 31, and sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, in their beds at home in Columbia, Ill.

    Prosecutors claim it was part of a plan to marry his lover and not expose adultery that could have cost him his job as bodyguard for televangelist Joyce Meyer.

    The 10 women and two men of the jury were sent out to consider the charges about 3 p.m. Wednesday, although they may have spent the first hour or so taking a break and getting settled. Judge Milton Wharton sent them back to their homes shortly after 8 p.m., with orders to reconvene at 10 a.m. today.

    Although it is a Monroe County trial, the group was selected in Perry County, farther from the glare of publicity about the case, and is bused back and forth from the Pinckneyville, Ill., area.

    Neither Christopher Coleman's family nor Sheri Coleman's family would comment as they left the courthouse Wednesday night.

    If Coleman is convicted, the trial would move into the death penalty phase, with prosecutors and defense lawyers presenting evidence for and against his execution. If the jury rejected a death sentence, the only alternate would be life in prison without parole.

    There appears no chance that Coleman could be executed anyway. Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed legislation barring imposition of death sentences after June 30, has already commuted all the existing capital sentences to life in prison and said he will do the same with any that come along in the meantime.

    Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz pressed the case for death anyway, which provides a state subsidy for the costs of prosecuting and defending the charges.

    The defense consisted of two expert witnesses Wednesday morning, called to rebut prosecution experts who claimed there were similarities between Coleman's known handwriting and writing patterns and words written in red paint at the murder scene and in mysterious threats the family received. The defense witnesses said a scientific correlation could not be made.

    Coleman chose not to testify.

    Prosecutors made much of the obscenity-laced threats, alleging that Coleman created them himself as part of a murder plan to divert detectives once the killings occurred.

    Computer experts testified that emailed threats were created on Coleman's own laptop, using his password and an anonymous email account. The defense tried to raise questions of whether some kind of remote control could have been used, but prosecution witnesses dismissed it.

    Coleman told police his family was fine when he awoke at 5:30 a.m. on May 5, 2009, put on exercise clothes and went for an early morning workout at a gym in south St. Louis County.

    But Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally known forensic pathologist from New York, testified in the trial last week that photos and reports indicated the victims were dead by 3 a.m. or earlier.

    The bodies were found by police, who discovered an open window after Coleman called a detective who lives across the street shortly before 7 a.m. Coleman said he was worried on the trip home from the gym because nobody was answering the phone and asked the neighbor to check on his family.

    The prosecutor contended that Coleman killed his family to start a new life with his wife's onetime best friend, Tara Lintz of Largo, Fla.

    Meyer testified at the trial by video deposition that if she knew of the adultery, it could have cost Coleman the job.

    Lintz told the jury that she and Coleman became involved months before the killing and planned to marry. She said Coleman told her he planned to serve divorce papers on what turned out to be the day of the murders.

    Prosecutors brought in Baden after Dr. Raj Nanduri, who performed the autopsies, declined to estimate a time of death, saying there were too many variables. When pressed at trial by Reitz, Nanduri said it was likely between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

    Although Coleman claimed to be worried about his family as he drove home that morning, an AT&T employee testified that cellphone records showed he did not take a direct route back.

    A police witness said Coleman had purchased red paint with the same formula as profane taunts found sprayed at the murder scene.

    In closing arguments Wednesday, Reitz told the jury Coleman "backed himself into a corner" by promising to divorce his wife to marry Lintz when it could jeopardize his career.

    As several spectators cried, Reitz said Sheri Coleman had struggled for her life and was strangled first. Testimony indicated that she had a black eye and ligature marks on her neck and chin. The prosecutor said the commotion didn't wake the boys because "that was just Mom and Dad."

    Then Reitz talked of Coleman entering the bedrooms of his sleeping sons. "When the killer reached for them, they didn't get up and run," the prosecutor said. "Why would they run?" he asked. "It was just Dad."

    Jim Stern, one of Coleman's defense attorneys, put forth a passionate closing argument, saying that prosecutors only used Baden because their own pathologist refused to affix an incriminating time of death.

    "Dr. Nanduri got thrown under the bus by the state," Stern said. "They race off to New York and get Dr. Baden."

    Stern asked jurors to remember his client's family background and work as a trusted bodyguard. "People like that don't suddenly wake up and slaughter his family," Stern said. He acknowledged that Coleman was having an affair but said so do a lot of other people.

    The lawyer also reminded the jury that Coleman notified police of the threats made against his family in the months before the murders. "How often does a defendant go to police to investigate himself?" Stern asked.

    He complained that the case was entirely circumstantial — with no physical evidence linking Coleman to the crime.

    Stern pleaded with jurors to think long and hard because, "You can't undo your decision."

    Several pieces of potential evidence came to light before the murder trial but were not presented to the jury.

    They include a video recorder faceplate found on part of the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, over which Coleman drove to a gym the morning the bodies were found.

    Officials said it was consistent with the recorder missing from a security system in the victims' home. The discovery left an implication that the device hit the structure while being tossed into the Mississippi River and the piece broke off.

    Also located along Coleman's route — but not mentioned in court — were a plastic glove stained with red paint and a piece of orange twine tied in a way that resembled a noose. The victims were strangled with an unspecified ligature. Similar orange twine bound straw outside the Coleman house.

    Presumably, forensic tests on those items failed to link them directly to the defendant. Since they were found along the closest route back to the bulk of the St. Louis area population, it meant that anyone who killed the family might have discarded them there.


  3. #53
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    WATERLOO -- A jury found Chris Coleman guilty of the murders of his wife, Sheri, and their two young sons, Garett and Gavin, on Thursday -- the second anniversary of their deaths.

    Coleman bowed his head and began to breathe heavily after the verdict was read.

    Sheri Coleman's mother, Angela DeCicco, cried as Sheri's uncle, Joe Miglio, held her hand. Sheri's brother, Mario DeCicco, put his arm around his mother.

    "This is a difficult day for obvious reasons... Next year would be better," Mario DeCicco said after the verdict. "We stayed strong. We had faith in the criminal justice system."

    Sheri, Garett and Gavin Coleman were found two years ago Thursday -- on May 5, 2009 -- strangled in their beds at their Columbia home.

    Coleman and DeCicco family members, friends, reporters, spectators filed into the courtroom about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. John O'Gara, Bill Margulis and Jim Stern, Coleman's defense lawyers, filed in, then Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz and special prosecutor Ed Parkinson followed. Parkinson talked to the DeCicco family.

    Circuit Judge Milton Wharton warned the gallery not to display any emotion when the verdict was read.

    The jury forewoman read the verdicts. Each of the jurors, 10 women and two men, was asked to confirm his votes to convict. Each affirmed his decision. Several looked at the DeCicco family when they answered.

    It took 15 hours for the jurors to arrive at their verdict.

    Deliberations on whether Coleman strangled his wife and two young sons began at 3 p.m. Wednesday and went until about 8 p.m. that night. Jurors returned to their deliberations at 10 a.m. on Thursday after their daily bus ride from Pinckneyville. Jurors were selected from Perry County to avoid taint from pre-trial publicity.

    They took a break to smoke at noon and were fed sub sandwiches at 12:30 p.m. That's when Coleman returned to the jail, a little smile on his face. When jurors had another smoke break before 6 p.m., there were three distinct groups. Wharton took a stroll and appeared stressed.

    Deputies escorted Coleman from the Monroe County Jail three times Thursday morning. He had to be present when jurors asked questions, but those questions were asked behind closed doors.

    Fried chicken was ordered for the jurors, but they arrived at their decision before they ate. They dined before they got on the bus back to Pinckneyville.

    Kathy LaPlante, who was friends with Sheri Coleman, fell on a courthouse staircase and an ambulance was called. Her condition was not known.

    After the verdict, about a hundred onlookers stood near the sallyport where Coleman left the courthouse. A cheer went up as he looked out of the back of a Monroe County Sheriff's squad car. Car horns honked. Media lights illuminated the rainy night.

    Jurors will return to the Monroe County Courthouse this morning to decide whether Coleman is eligible for the death penalty, then they will hear evidence in aggravation and mitigation to decide whether he will receive the death penalty or natural life without parole.

    Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in Illinois and commuted the sentence of 15 death row inmates to life in prison.

    During jury selection, several of the potential jurors asked why they were deciding a death penalty case when the death penalty was abolished. They were simply told by Judge Wharton that it is still the law in Illinois.

    The law abolishing the death penalty goes into effect on July 1. Quinn will commute the death sentence of anyone who receives it before then, his spokeswoman has said.

    Mario DeCicco didn't want to talk about capital punishment. He said it wasn't up to him to decide his brother-in-law's punishment. He expressed his gratitude to police, prosecutors and the judge.

    "I didn't know how many people put their heart and soul into finding out the truth," Mario DeCicco said. "Today we know what the truth is."

    Prosecutors closed on Wednesday by painting Chris Coleman as a man under pressure. He'd promised his mistress he'd marry her and he wanted to keep the $100,000 security chief job that allowed him travel and adventure with Joyce Meyer Ministries.

    Reitz said Coleman repeatedly lied to police, and evidence showed he was home when his family was killed.

    Defense attorney James Stern hammered on the fact that the entire case against Coleman was circumstantial and he was presumed innocent. He said there was no physical evidence whatsoever connecting Coleman to the three murders.

    He said Coleman was a Chester minister's son, a former Marine and former employee to the world-wide Joyce Meyer Ministries. He said Coleman wasn't the type to kill his family.

    Coleman did not testify during the trial.

    Some of the highlights of the prosecution's case included:

    * Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist and star of HBO's "Autopsy" series, who testified that Sheri, Garett and Gavin Coleman likely were strangled sometime around 3 a.m. -- hours before Christopher Coleman left for a workout at a south St. Louis County gym.

    * Tara Lintz, Sheri Coleman's high school best friend and Christopher Coleman's mistress, who testified that Chris Coleman told her he planned to confront Sheri Coleman with divorce papers on May 4, 2009, but her name was misspelled. He told Lintz he was giving Sheri the papers on May 5, 2009 -- the day Sheri, Garett and Gavin Coleman were found murdered in their beds.

    Lintz also testified that she met Coleman while he traveled on business as televangelist Joyce Meyer's personal bodyguard. The two traveled to Arizona and Hawaii together. The couple also planned a cruise in June 2009, but the cruise never happened. Coleman was in jail, charged with the murders.

    * Marcus Rogers, a Purdue University professor who specializes in computer forensics, who testified that threats against the Coleman family sent to Joyce Meyer and her employees were created on a Dell laptop owned by Christopher Coleman.

    * Former Columbia Police Detective Sgt. Justin Barlow, who told jurors that he set up a video camera trained on the Coleman mailbox to investigate threats left there. On the morning of May 5, 2009, Barlow crossed the street and found the bodies of his neighbors. Barlow questioned Coleman later. On the police interrogation videotape, Coleman says he had a peaceful night with his family on the night before the murders and denied he was having an affair, even as he was texting Lintz from the interrogation room.

    * Televangelist Joyce Meyer told jurors in taped testimony that Coleman would not have been fired if he divorced his wife, but he would have faced discipline, including termination, if he was having an adulterous affair. She said he called in sick the day before the murders.

    * Columbia Police Detective Karla Heine testified that she discovered a receipt from a St. Louis hardware store, signed by Christopher Coleman, for RustOleum brand Apple Red spray paint -- the same type used to write graffiti found inside of the Coleman's house the day of the murders.

    Prosecutor Parkinson said he talked to Sheri Coleman's family after the verdicts and they believed Sheri, Garett and Gavin received justice.

    "Sheri has spoken from the grave."

    Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2011/05/05/169754...#ixzz1LZbSTL3t

  4. #54
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    Chris Coleman eligible for death penalty

    The jury that convicted a Columbia, Illinois man of murdering his wife and their two children, has decided Chris Coleman will be eligible for the death penalty under Illinois law.

    "Phase two" of the trial began at 10:00 a.m. Friday.

    Once the jurors met it took them just 20 minutes to reach their decision about eligibility. It was announced shortly after noon.

    Lawyers in the case told jurors that they must consider three factors in determining if Coleman is eligible for death: premeditated, young victims, multiple murder. Lawyers have also said, that this case meets all three eligibility factors.

    The jury will meet again on Monday for the third and final phase and decide between life in prison and death for Coleman. Before making that decision, jurors will hear from the victim's family and Coleman's family, as well as other witnesses.

    Ed Parkinson, a special prosecutor with the state of Illinois, said his team will do everything they can to convince the jury to sentence Coleman to death, despite the fact that Illinois will no longer have a death penalty come July 1. Governor Pat Quinn has said he will commute a death sentence.

    "If there was ever a reason for a death penalty I think it would be for a father who murdered his wife and two defenseless young boys, innocent as they are, in their beds," said Parkinson.

    Guilty verdict

    Chris Coleman was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder on the second anniversary of the deaths of his wife, Sheri, and their two sons, Gavin and Garett.

    The verdict came on the second day of deliberations. Earlier Thursday, the jury had asked the judge for the definition of "reasonable doubt" and requested to see the window from the Coleman home.

    A crowd had gathered outside the courthouse prior to the verdict being read. Those people erupted in cheers when the verdict was made public.

    When the jurors came out of the courthouse to head back home, the crowd clapped for them as well.

    "That's all I ever wanted was the truth," said Sheri Coleman's brother Mario DeCicco. "Now the whole world knows what the truth is."

    "Justice was done for Sheri," said DeCicco who also said he felt his sister helped with the conviction through text messages she sent to friends that were read to the jury that told of her troubled marriage.

    "My sister practically testified in the courtroom," said DeCicco.

    "Every lead we investigated pointed back to the same person, and that person was found guilty tonight of murdering Sheri, Garett and Gavin Coleman," said Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards.

    Meanwhile, two of Sheri Coleman's best friends, Meegan Turnbeaugh and Kathy Laplante, said they were waiting for this moment. They exited the courtroom Thursday crying and hugging, overwhelmed with emotion. They had a plan to hand out bracelets in honor of Sheri's memory, but unfortunately they couldn't execute that plan.

    Laplante was so overwhelmed with the verdict, she fell feet first down a flight of stairs, tumbling on her head. She was conscious and alert but had to be transported to the hospital to be checked out. She was seen being carried out of the courthouse on a stretcher wearing a neck brace.

    Chris Coleman's family left the courthouse Thursday without offering comment.

    Jurors spent five hours deliberating on Wednesday and wrapped at 8:00 p.m. The jury began its second day of deliberations at 10:00 a.m. Thursday before reaching a verdict shortly before 7 p.m.

    "That was the longest wait of my life," said Chief Edwards.

    During the trial, the defense repeatedly told the jury there was reasonable doubt in the case and that no physical evidence linked Coleman to the murders.

    Prosecutors claimed Coleman strangled his wife and their two sons at their Columbia, Illinois home on May 5, 2009. They said he did it because he wanted to be with his mistress and feared he could lose his job in security for Joyce Meyer Ministries if he divorced his wife.

    When police arrived at the Coleman home after the murders, they found a back window open.

    Rick Sawdey, who works for the company that made the windows, testified that the window was not damaged and that the window has a forced entry resistance mechanism that prevents anyone from entering from the outside. He said there was no damage to the locks and it did not appear to have ever been forcefully opened


  5. #55
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    Judge to decide punishment in trial of man convicted of strangling wife, 2 sons

    A former Marine and pastor's son convicted of strangling his wife and their two sons has decided to let the judge decide whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison.

    Christopher Coleman on Monday waived a hearing in Monroe County that would have included testimony over whether he merits a death sentence. Sheri Coleman and their 9- and 11-year-old boys were killed in May 2009 in the couple's southwestern Illinois home.

    Coleman's waiver leaves his fate in the hands of Circuit Judge Milton Wharton.

    Illinois is abolishing capital punishment, and Gov. Pat Quinn has pledged to commute any death sentence given out before the ban takes effect July 1.

    A jury in Monroe County found Coleman guilty of three first-degree murder counts last week.


  6. #56
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    This case screamed death sentence! I am extremely disappointed Illinois no longer has the death penalty.

    Chris Coleman sentenced to life in prison

    Waterloo, Ill (KSDK) -- The judge in the Chris Coleman murder trial sentenced the triple murderer to life without parole and not the death penalty.

    Judge Milton Wharton said he could not offer the victims closure, but he felt the death penalty would have prolonged the ordeal and make it worse for the victims' families.

    Earlier today, Coleman waived his right for the jury to decide his fate.

    Judge Wharton told Coleman that he knew all the evidence and that the jury only knew what the judge allowed them to hear. Coleman decided to stick to his decision.

    The prosecution told the judge that Coleman committed "heinous" acts by killing his wife, Sheri, and their two sons, Gavin and Garett, at their home in Columbia, Illinois on May 5, 2009.

    "If not the death penalty for this defendant, then whom?" Prosecuting Attorney Chris Reitz asked the court. "Not going to grandstand. I will just say that it was hateful and shockingly evil that we all have been exposed to during this trial."

    Defense attorney John O'Gara pleaded for the judge to sentence Coleman to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He said Coleman would spend 23 hours a day in a cell with another man and that Coleman would be subject to horrible things.

    "You know all too well what a horrible punishment it is to put a man in prison and have him die there," O'Gara said.

    O'Gara continued speaking to the judge and said, "I never believed the answer to violence is more violence. I never believed The answer to cruelty is more cruelty. I never believed The answer to death is death."

    O'Gara also addressed the crowds that gathered outside the courthouse and cheered when Coleman was convicted on Thursday night.

    "I've looked at the editorials and cartoons in the newspapers and I perceive with a feeling that there is a case for death, vengeance, kill him," O'Gara said. "I saw it with my own eyes. Never saw anything like that here in the streets. That would be a popular gut reaction, but popular is not always right."

    Even if Judge Wharton would have sentenced Coleman to death, there was a chance he would never receive that punishment.

    Illinois' death penalty ban begins on July 1. Governor Pat Quinn said he would commute any such sentence.


  7. #57
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    Coleman Juror Talks About The Trial

    So what was it like in the jury room, and why did it take so long to reach a verdict?

    According to juror Kim Ferrari, in their hearts they all knew he was guilty but four of them needed a little more proof before crossing the Rubicon.
    And they found it, almost by accident on the back of a photograph that had been sitting in the jury room since the deliberations began.

    "I thought we were going to be a hung jury but then the more that we kept going the more it made me see we just had to keep after it and that we would find the information we needed and then we did eventually find it," Ferarri said.

    What they found was a photograph of Chris Coleman and his mistress, with a date written on the back, which proved to the jurors the adultery, began earlier than they had been led to believe.

    "When we found that bit of evidence everybody was like okay we're done," she said.

    Ferarri is a 39 year old mother, with two sons of her own and two step sons, and she is also a prison nurse.

    And she says she was convinced early on of Coleman's guilt.

    But that didn't make the process any less agonizing.

    "Difficult. Very difficult. Knowing that somebody can do that to their own children. There were some tears shed."

    Ferarri says she also found the crowds cheering the jury after the delivering the guilty verdict, very moving.

    Ferarri says she was willing to sentence Coleman to death, if only she had been given the chance.

    But she didn't because the judge ending up making that decision.

    "It was a surprise. I am very surprised that he did that but I think that he knew that we were going to sentence him to the death penalty."

    Asked whether she was disappointed the judge did not given Coleman a death sentence, Ferarri said no.

    "Because even though I say I am okay with the death penalty, this way he is going to have to sit in prison for the rest of his life and think about what he did everyday for the rest of his life."

    Ferrari says she is pretty sure the jury would have given Coleman the death penalty, had it been given the chance.


  8. #58
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    Inmate No. S11821: Coleman begins life in prison for murdering family

    Pontiac Correctional Center on Tuesday welcomed inmate No. S11821.

    And Chris Coleman began the first day of the rest of his life.

    The Illinois Department of Corrections listed Coleman as being sentenced to life in prison and ineligible for parole for three counts of murder with intent to kill or injure.

    Coleman will initially be in a cell by himself in the maximum security prison, corrections spokesman Sharyn Elman said. His mental health and other factors will be assessed to determine how and where he will be incarcerated, but Elman said he will be in maximum security, whatever his final destination.

    His inmate particulars include height at 5-feet-9-inches; a weight of 165 pounds; blond or strawberry hair with blue eyes and no tattoos.

    His inmate profile also lists that he is required to register as a sex offender, although that designation is misleading. Elman said the designation is a catch-all for the prison system based on Coleman's violence against children. If he ever were paroled, which he will not be, then he would likely go on the Illinois State Police Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth registry as opposed to being registered as a child sexual predator, she said.

    Coleman on Monday was sentenced to life imprisonment by Circuit Judge Milton Wharton after jurors on Thursday found he was guilty of murdering his family. Sheri Coleman, 31, and the couple's sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, were strangled in their beds on May 5, 2009.

    Coleman killed his family to be with his mistress, Tara Lintz, and keep his job as security chief at Joyce Meyer Ministries. He is a former Marine and a minister's son

    Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2011/05/12/170565...#ixzz1M9FhWU7h

  9. #59
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    State's bill for Coleman trial $494,450 and counting

    A state fund to promote fairness in death penalty cases has so far spent nearly $500,000 on the prosecution and defense of Christopher Coleman, who was sentenced earlier this week to three life terms for strangling his wife and two sons.

    The sum is expected to grow substantially with the payment of final trial expenses and once the state releases records of payments to defense lawyers for their time.

    Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz had sought a death sentence in the case. After Coleman was convicted by a jury last week on three counts of first-degree murder, he waived a jury decision on the penalty and was sentenced to life terms by Judge Milton Wharton.

    The Illinois Capital Litigation Trust Fund will end later this year because a new state law abolishes death sentences, effective July 1. After the ban passed earlier this year, Gov. Pat Quinn commuted all existing death sentences to life in prison without possibility of parole and pledged to do the same for any new sentences in the interim.

    The preliminary total in the Coleman case is $494,450, according to payment vouchers released this week by the state treasurer's office. Defense lawyers' fees were not yet included.

    Prosecutors used $179,811 so far, mostly for forensic experts.

    Defense attorneys spent $314,638, much of it on evidence to try to sway the jury against imposing a death sentence. But after Coleman put the decision in the judge's hands, there was no presentation of mitigating evidence — only closing arguments.

    The defense also employed private investigators to research witnesses and Coleman's previous steroid use, according to records. Steroids did not become an issue in the trial.

    The Capital Litigation Trust Fund was created in 1999 after the convictions of 13 inmates on Illinois' death row were overturned. Former Gov. George Ryan declared a freeze on all executions, which has continued since, but the law still permitted prosecutors to seek death sentences.

    The fund has been controversial. The Legislature imposed restrictions on it after a 2008 Post-Dispatch investigation found widespread misuse of the money by trial experts and others.

    John O'Gara, a lawyer representing Coleman, had asked for the trial to be put on hold until the death penalty issue was sorted out, in part, he said, to save the state money.

    Prosecution expenses included $66,962 to Robert A. Leonard, a forensic linguist from Hofstra University, who testified that Coleman's language patterns matched threats sent to the family by email and on paper, and spray-painted messages scrawled on the murder scene's walls.

    The prosecution also paid $61,810 to Marcus Rogers, a computer forensics expert from Purdue University, who linked Coleman's own personal computer to the email threats.

    Not included so far was the bill to Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally known forensic pathologist whose testimony on the time of death devastated the defense and led Reitz to label him his 'star witness."

    Among the defense bills were $124,937 to Dr. Harold Bursztajn, a Harvard University psychiatrist, and $24,304 to Michael O'Kelly, a Salt Lake City forensic cellphone data consultant. Neither testified at the trial.

    By comparison, the 2004 retrial in Mount Vernon, Ill., of Cecil Sutherland, twice convicted in the murder of a child, cost state taxpayers about $2 million in what is considered one of the most expensive cases.

    Coleman, now 34, was convicted of killing his wife, Sheri Coleman, 31, and sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, in their home in Columbia, Ill., to clear the way for him to marry a mistress in Florida. The bodies were found May 5, 2009.


  10. #60
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    Coleman moves to out-of-state prison: 'It's typically done for safety and security'

    Convicted triple murderer Christopher Coleman is leaving Illinois.

    The Illinois Department of Corrections is in the process of moving Coleman to another state under the Interstate Compact Agreement, according to DOC Chief of Staff Cara Smith.

    "It's typically done for safety and security reasons," Smith said, "though it can be done at an inmate's request."

    Coleman did not make a request to transfer out of Illinois, Smith said.

    Last month, Coleman was convicted of strangling his wife, Sheri Coleman, 31, and their two sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9. Prosecutors theorized Coleman, 34, killed his family so he could marry his mistress, Tara Lintz, without losing his $100,000-a-year job as the personal bodyguard to televangelist Joyce Meyer. Lintz, who waits tables at a Tampa, Fla., dog track, testified against Coleman at his trial.

    Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty. Coleman received a life sentence.

    Coleman was sent to Pontiac Correctional Center after his conviction, but his profile and picture were removed from the DOC website, prompting questions about his whereabouts. Coleman remains in DOC custody, but the department is seeking a transfer out of the state. Smith said DOC is in the process of seeking a state that will accept Coleman for placement in one of its prisons. Coleman's last mug shot on the website showed he shaved his head.

    There are 23 Illinois inmates serving their sentences out of state, Smith said.

    They include Ryan Parker, a former Menard Correctional Center guard, part-time Okawville police officer and Randolph County jailer, who is serving his life term for the shooting deaths of a Granite City florist and a Sparta video store clerk outside of Illinois.

    There are 35 out-of-state inmates serving their sentences in Illinois, Smith said.

    Coleman is scheduled for a court hearing June 27 in Monroe County. His lawyers are seeking a new trial.

    Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2011/06/18/175322...#ixzz1Pe2p4eY8

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