Friend of Coleman's murdered wife cries on witness stand, shows text message from victim

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KMOV.com

Posted on April 29, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 4:56 PM

(KMOV) – Testimony continued Friday in the Chris Coleman triple murder trial. Coleman is accused of killing his wife Sheri and their two sons in their Columbia, Illinois home in May 2009.

Six women who were friends of Sheri Coleman took the stand late Friday morning.

The judge agreed to allow testimony from these so-called hearsay witnesses.

Complete coverage of the Chris Coleman trial

Meegan Turnbeaugh was one of the women who took the stand. Turnbeaugh had worked with Sheri at Joyce Meyer Ministries.

Turnbeaugh testified saying, "I received a text message from Sheri that Christopher had beat her and..." At that point, the defense objected and Judge Milton Wharton instructed the jury to disregard this altogether.

Turnbeaugh further testified that Chris wanted to leave his wife. She said Sheri told her "Chris wanted to leave Sheri. She said he told her she had ruined his life, because he could not leave her. Because his job would be terminated."

Officials have said that the motive in the murders had to do with Chris Coleman having an affair and not being able to get a divorce because he would lose his job at Joyce Meyer Ministries. Joyce Meyer Ministries has a no-divorce policy.

Another friend of Sheri's, Cathy Laplante, said, "Sheri said Chris wanted a divorce because he was tired of her, and she was keeping him from his destiny." 

>Laplante continued, "Sheri said he told her she and the children were keeping him from his destiny...from what God wanted him to do."

Stephanie Jones was another friend who took the stand on Friday. She cried as she testified before the court. Jones showed a text message from Sheri that she had saved. The message was put on a screen for the jury to read. It was sent to Jones on December 27, 2008.

The message said:

Sheri - "Can you pray for me?"

Stephanie - "What's up?"

Sheri - "Chris wants a divorce. A couple days ago he said me & my kids are in the way of his job."

Earlier Friday morning, jurors heard from two CSI detectives who processed the Columbia, Illinois crime scene where Sheri Coleman and sons Garett and Gavin were found murdered.

Jurors also watched a 20-minute video taken at the Coleman home on the day of the murders. The video was taken by one of the investigators. It included footage of Sheri Coleman's naked body (Chris Coleman had told police that she often slept in the nude) and the bodies of Garett and Gavin Coleman in their beds.

During Friday's proceedings, the jury learned that nine fingerprints were found on a back window of the home. No one has said yet who those fingerprints belong to.

Photos of Chris Coleman's arms were shown in court on Friday. The photos were taken after the bodies were found in the Coleman home and show an abrasion on the top of Chris Coleman's right arm and two long scratches on his forearm. The prosecution speculated about the marks on Coleman's arm. Coleman says he hurt himself by beating on the bed inside an ambulance after his family's bodies were found.

Later on Friday, the jury heard a taped deposition from Joyce Meyer, Coleman's former employer. 

Joyce Meyer claimed that prior to her interview with police on May 6th, 2009, the day after the murders, she was not aware Chris Coleman was having an affair.  
However, she said she did know he was having marital problems. She had talked with Chris about that and he had agreed to counseling.

She said, “Coleman told me they were having issues. He felt Sheri was very controlling. No matter what he did she wasn’t happy. He was just tired of it.”

She was aware there had been a couple of threatening emails. 

Police asked Meyer, if Coleman had an affair while married, would that have affected his job. She said it could have affected his job. 

Police asked her if others at Joyce Meyer ministries had been let go for having an affair while married and she said yes.

When asked if divorce would have cost him his job. She said it’s not the divorce so much as the immorality of the affair that would be a problem. She said there are other employees at the ministry who are divorced.
  
(In other words, divorce alone might not be grounds for dismissal from employment, but the circumstances surrounding the divorce, such as an illicit affair while married might be grounds for dismissal.)

She also said he was an excellent employee during 11 years there and she had no complaints about him as an employee. She also said she encouraged him to take more time off than he did and encouraged him to take more time off with his family. She says he set his own schedule, except when he was traveling with her.

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