Jury decides Coleman case is eligible for death penalty

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KMOV.com

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 7:55 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 15 at 7:58 AM

(KMOV.com) -- The jury in the Chris Coleman murder case has decided that Coleman is eligible for the death penalty.

On Thursday night, a jury found Chris Coleman guilty of murdering his wife and sons in their Columbia, Illinois home in May 2009.  On Friday morning, the jury returned to the courthouse to move into the "penalty phase."

The prosecution and defense presented their arguments to the jury as to why, or why not, this case should be eligible for the death penalty.  Jurors began their deliberations on that point just before noon and came to a decision just after noon.

Click here for complete coverage of the Coleman trial.

The jury has been dismissed for the weekend. Proceedings will resume at 10:00 a.m.

There were crowds on the sidewalks outside the courthouse Thursday night cheering as the jury members boarded a shuttle bus to return home.  Chris Coleman bowed his head and appeared to be crying or holding back tears after the guilty verdict was announced.

Sheri Coleman's brother said, "Finally, we know what the truth is."

The judge made a point to warn everyone in the courtroom against emotional outbursts when the verdict was read.  Chris Coleman's family would not comment as they left the courthouse. 

Sheri Coleman's father said, "We are glad this part of the process is over with because it has been hard.  It went the way we wanted it to...are we happy?  How can you be happy about something like this? "

The trial is now in the sentencing phase. A death sentence would most likely be symbolic because the ban on capital punishment in Illinois takes effect on July 1st.  Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he will commute any death sentence given in the meantime.

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