Chris Coleman looks at projected images of the spray painted threats found inside his home on the day of the murder.
(Credit: Dan Martin St. Louis Post-Dispatch/STLtoday.com )
Chris Coleman (File photo)
Waterloo, IL (KSDK) - Triple-murder suspect Chris Coleman teared up as graphic pictures of Sheri Coleman and her two boys, Gavin and Garrett, were shown in court on Monday morning.
The three victims were found strangled in their beds in May 2009. Chris Coleman is accused of killing them.
Sheri was pictured naked, face down in her bed. The pictures of the boys showed their faces and parts of their arms discolored. There were also spray-painted messages on the boy's beds. Another picture showed a clump of long, dark hair in the bend of Gavin's elbow.
Sheri's mother and other family members left the court room when the pictures were shown.
The first responder who found the victim's bodies was the third person to testify on the first day of the murder trial in Monroe County, Illinois.
The second witnesss to testify was an FBI employee who made a model of the Coleman home to use as a prop in the investigation and during the trial.
Sheri's mother took the stand only to identify the victims and to announce their ages.
In all, eight witnesses took to the stand on Monday, most of them police and amublance workers. They testified that the victims appeared to have been dead for a while. They showed signs of rigor mortis and their bodies were discolored. A patholegist estimated the victims' time of death to be between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The time of death may play a key issue in the proceedings. Chris Coleman claims his wife and sons were alive when he left to go to the gym at 5:43 a.m.
The prosecution and defense spent about an hour presenting their opening statements to the jury.
The prosecution said its case to the jury will begin about six months prior to the murders. They believe Coleman came up with an elaborate plan to kill his family so he could make a new life with his mistress.
The prosecution said Coleman's mistress, Tara Lintz, went to high school with Sheri Coleman. They said Coleman had sexual relations with Lintz while he was traveling for work. Coleman worked security for Televangelist Joyce Meyer and made $100,000 a year.
Meyer was unable to attend the trial, so she taped her deposition. Prosecutors said Meyer testified she would fire any employee having an affair and that she ordered the couple to get counseling.
Prosecutors said Coleman felt "it was a job he could not lose."
Sheri's friends will testify during the trial that Sheri told them that Chris told her she wanted a divorce and that the family was getting in the way of work, according to the prosecution.
The defense did not deny that Coleman had an affair with Lintz. They said Chris was seeking other job opportunities, so he could leave the ministry to spend more time with his wife and family.
Chris was distraught when he learned about the murders, the defense said. Chris cooperated with the police investigation and voluntarily gave DNA samples.
The defense told jurors "you will find a lot of reasonable doubt in the evidence."
A jury of 10 women and two men were selected last week in Pinckneyville. The jurors will be bussed 50 minutes each way for the trial.
NewsChannel 5's Ryan Dean and Casey Nolen will be covering the trial and will tweet updates @ksdknews.