BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- A St. Clair County judge on Monday denied a new trial for a former Marine and pastor's son serving a life sentence in Illinois for strangling his wife and their two sons.
Judge Milton Whaton also ruled he will release exhibits, although likely edited, from Christopher Coleman's triple murder case for public viewing. Coleman, 34, was convicted in May of killing Sheri Coleman and their sons, 11-year-old Garett and 9-year-old Gavin, in their home in Columbia in May 2009.
Wharton is to make a decision by the end of the week on how to release the exhibits. The judge says his "inclination" was to let the death-scene photos be released only if the bodies are blacked out.
The judge said he would worried the evidence would bring a "caravan of curiosity seekers into the community."
Two newspapers, the Belleville News-Democrat and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, requested the exhibits be released.
Prosecutors and attorneys for the victims' family had limited objections, but did say they wanted to protect relatives from seeing grisly murder-scene pictures.
Coleman's representative during the trial, John O'Gara, said he was worried the materials' release would prejudice potential jurors if Coleman won retrial. O'Gara has appealed the judge's ruling against a new trial.
The judge said he will review all nearly 100 pieces of evidence before he makes a final decision.
Prosecutors contend Coleman killed his family to further an affair and avoid a divorce that could have cost him his high-paying job as the security chief for Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)