Expert: Email threats sent from Coleman laptop

11:15 PM, May 3, 2011   |    comments
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Waterloo, IL (KSDK) - As he excused them for the day, Judge Milton Wharton told the jury to pack a bag, bring a tooth brush and prepare for the possibility of a long day at the Monroe County courthouse on Wednesday. The prosecution rested its case against Chris Coleman Tuesday after seven days of testimony and evidence.

Coleman is accused of strangling his wife Sheri and sons Garett and Gavin in their Columbia, Illinois home nearly two years ago.
Prosecutors say he did it to be with his mistress and hoped to get away with it by sending himself and his family death threats related to his job as televangelist Joyce Meyer's bodyguard.

The state concluded its case by calling a second expert who said emailed threats to Coleman were sent from his laptop.

Jurors also heard from hand writing and linguistics experts. They testified that there are similarities between the threats and writing samples from Chris Coleman -- including the spray painted messages left inside the Coleman home the morning of the murders.

Defense attorney Bill Margulis was also able to get Illinois State Police hand writing expert Lindell Moore to admit that he could probably find similarities between the attorney's hand writing and the un-natural style of writing with spray paint.

Paint experts said RustOleum brand "Apple Red" spray paint was used to vandalize the home. And a Columbia police officer said she tracked Coleman's purchase of that paint to a south county hardware store three months before the murders.

Through cross-examination the defense pointed out no paint was ever found on Chris Coleman and no paint can was recovered.

Earlier in the day Purdue University Professor of Computer Forensics Marcus Rogers said the IP address on Coleman's laptop matched up with emails sent from an email account titled destroychris@gmail.com.

Rogers said it was his opinion that someone sat down at Coleman's laptop, turned it on, created the email account and sent the emails.

The defense asked Rogers if someone could have done it remotely.

Rogers said it has to be physically turned on by a person, and that portion, cannot be done remotely.

The defense also asked Rogers if a virus could have allowed someone to hack into the computer and send the emails.

Rogers said he has reviewed 2011 virus protection software and he said he did not believe any virus could have done that and that he stands by his opinion.

The defense pointed out several user accounts were assigned to Coleman's laptop, but Rogers said the email address destroychris@gmail.com and the emails were sent from Chris Coleman's username.

Hofstra University Linguistics Professor Dr. Robert Leonard said there were similarities between the threats and documents Coleman wrote in the past.  He said Coleman often reverses the placement of apostrophes in words.  Coleman often wrote "'dont' and not 'don't.'"  The same mistake was found in one of the threatening emails, according to Dr. Leonard.

He said many of the threats began with the same expletive and that it was very uncommon when it was compared to a database of threats the FBI has.  Dr. Leonard said less than one percent of the 4,400 threats in the database began with that same expletive.

The defense brought up that FBI Agent Andre Simons looked at the threats on July 21, 2010 and said he could not form an opinion about the level of uniqueness about the threats.

A handwriting expert was also expected to testify in the murder trial for the prosecution.

The prosecution is trying to link Coleman to spray painted messages found inside the family's Columbia, Illinois home on the day Sheri Coleman, and their two sons, Gavin and Garett, were murdered.

Prosecutors believe Coleman wrote those messages to cover his tracks in the murders and make it seem like someone who didn't like him working for televangelist Joyce Meyer did the killings.
Some of the messages said "You paid for it" and "I saw you leave."

The defense claims someone murdered the three members of the Coleman family while Chris Coleman was at the gym. They said he left for the gym at 5:43 a.m. on May 5, 2009. Coleman claims he returned an hour later and they were dead.

Newschannel 5's Ryan Dean and Casey Nolen are folllowing the case.  Follow them on Twitter through @ksdknews for the latest updates.

KSDK

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