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Exclusive interview with Chris Coleman's family

5:19 AM, May 18, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Extended interviews with Coleman family

Chris Coleman's family: Brad (his brother), Connie (his mother), and Ron (his father).

By Ryan Dean

Chester, IL (KSDK) - "Dad and mom, I love you and miss everyone, God is good.  And though the changes have been huge, his grace, peace and favor have been obvious."

Those are written words from Chris Coleman to his family. It's the first communication they've had from him, since being transferred from jail to a prison cell in Pontiac, Illinois.

"It says for me, personally and emotionally, 'I'm doing good,'" says Connie Coleman, reading her son's words.

This from a 34-year-old-man who will spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole.  Earlier this month, Chris Coleman was found guilty of killing his wife Sheri and two sons Garett and Gavin back in May 2009.

For two years, the Coleman family sat and watched their son go through the court system and the court of public opinion.  They've held back from making many comments publicly, fearing it could jeopardize Chris' trial.  But now that the trial is over and Chris has been found guilty, the family decided to speak with NewsChannel 5's Ryan Dean for their first on-camera interview.

"When people see that new mug shot, a lot of people say monster and devil.  What do you see when you look at that mug shot and see Chris Coleman?" reporter Ryan Dean asked Chris' Dad Ron.

"A tired, disappointing, hurting young man, because that is not his character at all.  (He) Loved his kids, loved his wife, had the affair, but he did not kill, did not kill his family," Ron said.

The Colemans say Chris cannot be a murderer because it's not in his character.  And he's claimed his innocence since being arrested.

"I just flat out asked him and said to him 'Hey, if you lost your marbles and did this, don't put me, mom, Dad and Keith (sibling) through this.  It's too much on top of losing family, we are going to have to deal with this.'  He started to break down crying and say 'No, I didn't do it.'  He's my brother and I'm going to believe him until he tells me different," said Brad Coleman, Chris' brother.

But is Chris Coleman lying to his family?  After all, his parents say they had no idea that their son was living a double life by having an affair.

"If Chris was fooling you on that, maybe he is fooling you on this?" Ryan Dean asked.

"No, it's a whole different (situation), it's a whole different (situation), he can't go there, he couldn't go there to the murders, he couldn't go there with the boys, he could not go there," Ron Coleman said.

The Colemans also say there was no physical evidence linking Chris to the crime.  He was found guilty on a circumstantial case.

"This man was convicted on his character," Ron Coleman said.

But there was some damning evidence against Coleman presented in court.  Prosecutors said Coleman tried to cover up the murders by making it look like someone who hated him working for Joyce Meyer did it.

They said he even sent threatening letters and emails to his own family.  Two computer experts said those emails were sent from Coleman's own laptop.  And then there was the testimony from Coleman's mistress, Tara Lintz.  She testified that Chris was going to give divorce papers to his wife on May 5, that's the day his family was found dead.

The Colemans cannot explain that, but say not everyone was being truthful on the stand and some evidence and testimony that could have helped Chris' case was not put on by the defense in trial.

Ron Coleman thinks his son wanted to take the stand, but didn't because he was advised not to.  While the Colemans say they wish more was done on Chris' behalf in court, they cannot dwell on that and are waiting for an appeal.

"We are praying that the truth be found, and if the appeal doesn't happen, we just love him anyway," said Connie Coleman.

And if it ever does turn out that Chris admits to the crimes or the Colemans find physical evidence linking him to the murders, they say Chris deserves to be punished, but they will still support him.

"He would be forgiven by me and we would move on, that's the way it's supposed to be...I would never turn my back," said Ron Coleman. 

KSDK

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