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Chris Coleman arrives for jury selection day three

7:57 AM, Apr 13, 2011   |    comments
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Perry County, Ill (KSDK) - Day three of jury selection in the Chris Coleman triple murder trial starts at 9 a.m. in Perry County, Illinois.

More than a dozen potential jurors were questioned on day two.

Chris Coleman arrived at the courthouse for the selection process wearing a bullet proof vest, hand cuffs and ankle weights on Tuesday morning.

Coleman is accused of strangling his wife Sheri and sons Gavin and Garret in their Columbia, Illinois home in May 2009. He pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Coleman murdered his family because he was having an affair.  They say Coleman wanted to leave his wife but his job with televangelist Joyce Meyer would have been in jeopardy if they divorced. Meyer and her son taped their testimony last week since they'll be out of town during the trial.

With his vest and cuffs removed, Coleman, his attorneys, prosecutors and the judge sat with one prospective juror at a time around one table in a tiny courtroom.

They were asked if they could handle graphic photos of Coleman's two young sons and his wife Sheri.

And the judge asked each of them to look at Coleman and answer under oath if they could give him a fair trial.

Most of the interviews took less than a half hour, some more.

Three of the jurors questioned were immediately let go by the judge.

Some of the repeated questions asked to jurors:  Do you have strong feelings about the death penalty?  Have you heard about the case?  What was your reaction when you found out you were called for this case?  If he is found guilty of first-degree murder, does that mean he should be put to death, or would you be willing to listen to the defense argue for life in prison?

The defense also asked how the potential jurors would feel if Coleman didn't testify and if they would hold it against him.

Most of the jurors who were questioned said they had heard about the case. The jurors had a mix of feelings about the death penalty.

In a back and forth between the attorneys and potential jurors that was at times free flowing, one potential juror said "I don't know if the man did it. I hope to God he didn't."

And one wanted to know the "why" behind the alleged crimes saying, "you don't just decide to kill your children."

The jurors were told it will be a five week commitment to the case. Two weeks were estimated to be spent on jury selection and three others for the trial.

Jurors were being selected in Pinckneyville, Illinois, but the trial will be held at the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo. Coleman's attorneys asked for a change of venue because of all the media coverage in the case. Instead, a judge ruled the jurors would be chosen in another county, and bused to the Monroe County Courthouse for the trial.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin on April 25th.

Even though Illinois has abolished the death penalty, the new law doesn't take effect until this summer.   Therefore prosecutors will try Coleman's case as a death penalty case.

NewsChannel 5's Ryan Dean and Casey Nolen are covering the trial and will be tweeting about the case. Follow their tweets @ksdknews.

KSDK

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