Two years to the day after the brutal strangulation deaths of his wife and two young sons, dad CHRISTOPHER COLEMAN has been found guilty of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder.
May 6, 2011 12:19 PM
Ex-marine Chris Coleman found guilty of murdering wife, kids, on second anniversary of Ill. killings
Posted by Edecio Martinez
(CBS/AP) WATERLOO, Ill. - Christopher Coleman, a former Marine and pastor's son, was convicted Thursday of strangling his wife and two sons exactly two years earlier, in what prosecutors say was his bid to further an affair and keep a job with televangelist Joyce Meyers.
Jurors deliberated 15 hours over two days before finding Coleman, 34, guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sheri Coleman, 31, and their two sons, ages 9 and 11.
With the verdict, the trial advanced to the sentencing phase in which prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty, though such a sentence most likely would be symbolic because capital punishment was abolished in Illinois in March. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has pledged to commute a death sentence given to anyone before the ban takes effect July 1.
Prosecutors theorize Coleman killed his family on May 5, 2009, in the family's lakeside home in Columbia, Ill. because he feared his affair with his wife's longtime friend would cost him his $100,000-a-year job as the security chief for Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries. His case, with its mix of religion, adultery and violence, has tantalized much of the St. Louis region.
Upon hearing the verdict, Coleman bowed his head. He seldom looked up as jurors were polled on their decision.
Sheri Coleman's mother trembled when she heard the verdict, then sobbed and nodded at a relative sitting next to her.