EDWARDSVILLE - A Wood River man who fatally shot his wife in the back, then told police he had mistaken her for a burglar, pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Vernon L. Coates, 55, of Wood River showed little emotion as he pleaded guilty in Madison County Circuit Court to a charge of second-degree murder in the Sept. 3, 2008, death of his wife, Audrey Coates, 45.
Second-degree murder carries a sentence of between four and 20 years in prison, but this sentence was enhanced. Evidence would have shown that the woman had bruises and cuts on her body, contributing to the evidence of brutal and heinous conduct, Assistant Madison County State's Attorney Mike Stewart said.
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