Killer Appeals Conviction after Jury Eyeballs Four Dirty Snaps

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in the case of Christopher Coleman, it may also be the difference between a life sentence and freedom for the psycho convicted of strangling his wife and two sons in their beds.
 
Coleman was convicted of the first-degree murder of his wife, Sherri, and their two boys, Garrett, 11, and Gavin, 9. He is currently serving his sentence in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
 
Last Tuesday, Lloyd Cueto Jr., Coleman’s appointed attorney, filed a request in the 20th Circuit Court to reconsider Coleman’s conviction, based largely on four X-rated pictures of Coleman and his lover, Tara Lintz.
 
“The issue which was most litigated prior to the trial and most relevant for this Petition was the admission of numerous graphic and sexually explicit texts, emails, photographs and videos exchanged between (Chris Coleman) and Lintz,” Cueto wrote in his appellate brief.
 
Prosecutors said the pictures and videos would show Coleman had a motive to commit the crimes and the intensity of their relationship. Defense attorneys argued the pictures would turn the jury against Coleman instead of having any value in proving the state’s case.
 
Milton Wharton, the trial judge, made a split decision and allowed the photos but ordered that black boxes be placed over genitalia and Lintz’s breasts.
 
But four uncensored “thumbnail” photos made it back to the jury deliberations room on the back of a foam board to present another exhibit.
 
“The thumbnail images included uncensored imagery as well as date and time stamps and other data for which no evidence or testimony had been presented,” Cueto noted in the brief.
 
The jury sent out notes during the deliberations. Among them were a request for the definition of reasonable doubt and a statement that the jury could not decide.
 
Then they asked for a magnifying glass.
 
The jury used that magnifying glass to look at the back of one of the thumbnail photographs, including the uncensored pictures! On the uncensored pictures, there was a time and date stamp. That stamp did not match the timeline of the affair as provided by Coleman. No legal foundation had been laid for the pictures, Cueto noted.
 
“After 15 hours of deliberations over two days, guilty verdicts were returned.”
 
Coleman was later sentenced to three life terms.
 
One of the jurors, Jonece Pearman, told a television crew from "48 Hours" that the first vote of the jury was 7-5 in favor of a “not guilty” verdict. The jury was deadlocked and at an impasse until they looked at the date-stamp on that photograph.
 
“Ms. Pearman further stated that it was this solitary issue that convinced her that the defense was lying and (Coleman) must be guilty,” the appeal stated.
 
Another jury member, Kimberly Ferrari, told a newspaper that the stamp on the photograph indicated they had been taken in 2008 — a month before Coleman said the affair began.
 
“This caused jurors to lose all trust in the defense, and the tide turned toward a unanimous guilty verdict,” Ferrari told the paper.
 
Coleman that his rights under the U.S. and Illinois constitutions were violated. He will ask that his case be set for an evidentiary hearing on the issues and for testimony to be given in a hearing. Coleman is asking the court, after that hearing, to reverse his conviction and send that case back to Monroe County for a new trial.
 
Cueto argued the jurors were not supposed to see any uncensored photographs and that without those, and their date-stamp, there would have been no guilty verdict.
Jurors must base their verdict on evidence developed during the trial. In Coleman’s case, the jurors, in Cueto’s estimation, conducted a private investigation and decided guilt or innocence based on that.
 
In the brief, Cueto included copies of news stories from the deliberations, some laboratory results from the Illinois State Police Crime Lab, an article about the unreliability of DNA and a recording of the television news show “48 Hours." The episode included interviews with former Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards; Detective Justin Barlow; Major Case Squad Commander Jeff Connors; prosecutor Ed Parkinson;Coleman’s parents, the Rev. Ron and Connie Coleman; and former St. Louis Post Dispatch reporter Nick Pistor. It also included the interview with Pearman.
 
At the time of the murders, Coleman was working as a bodyguard for TV evangelist Joyce Meyer of St. Louis.
 

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