WATERLOO, Ill. (KMOX) –The first week of the Christopher Coleman triple-murder trial ended Friday, with a police chaplain saying that Coleman was “stoic” when he was told that his family had been killed and a police officer saying Chris had his father call ‘Sheri’s best friend in Florida’ while in the ambulance outside his home shortly after the bodies of Sheri, Gavin and Garett had been found.
Chaplain Jonathan Peters told the jury that when he arrived at the Coleman home, he knelt next to Chris on the driveway, held him and told him his family had been killed. Peters described Coleman as, “Stoic, quiet, absolutely not hysterical.”
Peters said that once inside the ambulance, Coleman looked at the scratches on his right arm and asked, “How did that get there?” He showed Peters his arm, which Peters said had “red, blotchy marks” on it. Peters and Police Captain Jerry Paul testified that Coleman slammed his arm down on the padded gurney in the ambulance. Paul told the jury that later, at police headquarters, Coleman told his father that the scratches must have gotten on his arm when he hit the gurney.
Paul also testified that as Chris and his father were discussing calling Sheri’s family to inform them of the deaths, Coleman asked his father to call “Sheri’s best friend, Terri, in Florida.” He says Coleman got the her number from his phone and gave it to his father. The name Paul heard as Terri, was actually Coleman’s alleged mistress Tara Lintz.
Earlier in the day, the jury saw the videotaped testimony of Evangelist Joyce Meyer and her son, Joyce Meyer Ministries CEO of US Operations Daniel Meyer.
Joyce Meyer testified that she has known Chris since he was ‘little boy’ and hired him in 1998. She said he had worked his way up to become her personal security guard and was being paid $100,000 a year.
Meyer said that she did not know of Coleman’s affair with Lintz until after the killings. She said she was aware Chris and Sheri were having marital problems. She said Chris told her, “Sheri was controlling. No matter what he did it wasn’t enough and he was tired of it.”
She said that when she suggested to Chris that he and Sheri get counseling from a ministry pastor, Chris, “Right away said yes.” She added that sometime later Coleman and the pastor counseling them, told her that he and Sheri were “doing better.”
Meyer said Coleman had told her of the threats he had received, and that no other ministry security officers had received threats.
She also told the jury that in April, she noticed that Chris, “Wasn’t as attentive to his duties. He was forgetting things, not as engaged.” She said that on the day before the killings, May 4, 2009, Chris called in sick,which she says was very rare for him.
Meyer talked about a missionary trip to Florida, where Chris asked to stay behind as the rest of the traveling party returned to St. Louis. She said Chris told her he wanted to visit a “girlfriend of Sheri’s.”
Meyer said that while divorce would not have meant immediate termination for Chris, if she had known Coleman was having an affair, “It could have definitely affected his job.”
Earlier, former Joyce Meyer Ministry Human Resources Manager Susan Boyd, testified that according to the ministry’s script for interviewing prospective employees, “Adultry…is grounds for termination.” She and others, including Joyce Meyer, told the jury that others had been fired from the ministry for having affairs.
In his videotaped deposition, Daniel Meyer testified that he noticed the bill on Chris’ ministry issued cell phone was high. Upon investigation, he found that many calls were being made to a number in Florida. When he called it, he heard a female voice, which he “thought odd.” He says Coleman told him it was a friend of Sheri’s, and he was calling her husband seeking advice on their marital problems.
Daniel Meyer says that after Coleman told him of the threats, he offered Coleman a chance to stop travelling and offered to provide additional security at his home. He testified that Coleman told him that he and Sheri had prayed about it and decided they didn’t need anything.
Columbia Police Officer Shawn Westfall testified that he went to Coleman’s home on April 27, 2009, after Coleman reported getting a threat letter in his mailbox.Westfall says neighbors reported seeing nothing unusual around the box from the time Sheri got the mail at 3:10pm until Chris says he found the threat in the mailbox, at 6:10pm. Westfall also testified that Coleman told him Sheri had turned in a previous threateing letter to Columbia Police, but Westfall said he had never seen or heard of that letter.
The day started with two Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators describing collecting evidence on the scene. One lifting fingerprints off the back window that was the suspected point of entry, plus footprint impressions under that window and in the foyer.
The jury saw a videotape of the inside and outside of the house. Coleman looked down at his tablet on the table, as the video showed the spray painted walls and the victims’ bodies still in their beds.
In cross-examination, investigator Abby Keller said that Coleman was cooperative with investigators, even pulling out a strand of his own hair when asked for a sample.
The jury also heard from five friends of Sheri Coleman, and a neighbor.
The friends testified that Sheri had told them that Chris wanted a divorce. Stephanie Jones choked back tears as her texts with Sheri from December 27, 2008 were displayed on the courtroom wall. They show Sheri telling her that Chris wants a divorce. Jones asks, when did he tell you? Sheri replies, ”A couple of days ago. He said me and my kids are in the way of his job.” Sheri ends the texting with, “I just need as many prayers as I can.” Other friends testified that Sheri told them that Chris had told Sheri that she was keeping him from his destiny.
The neighbor, Vanessa Riegerix testified that Chris told her he wanted a divorce because he didn’t like the way Sheri spends money. In cross-examination, Riegerix told the jury that, ”She (Sheri) did like to spend money.”
One witness appeared to glare at Coleman as she walked into the courtroom, and then started at him as she walked out.
When the trial resumes Monday, prosecutors intend to start calling handwriting, linguistic, fingerprint, footprint, paint, hair and a forensic computer experts. They say they may complete presenting their case by noon Tuesday.
- X-Rated Video and ‘Girlfriend’ Testimony in Coleman Case
- Day Two of Coleman Triple Murder Trial
- Day Two of Coleman Triple Murder Trial
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