Christopher Coleman listens to Dr. Michael Baden's testimony.
Credit: Dan Martin St. Louis Post-Dispatch/STLtoday.com
Waterloo, IL (KSDK) - Prosecutors in Chris Coleman's triple murder trial continued try to establish two main themes Friday -- that his marriage to Sheri Coleman was on the rocks, and that his six figure salary job with Joyce Meyer Ministries would be jeopardized if he sought a divorce.
In the afternoon, the jury heard from Joyce Meyer and her son Dan who is the CEO of Joyce Meyer Ministries via a videotaped testimony.
Joyce Meyer testified that looking back after the murders she felt some of Coleman's behavior was odd leading up to the time when his family was killed.
She said Coleman called in sick the day before the murders, and to the best she could recall that was the only time he'd ever missed work. She also recalled a time when Coleman requested to stay behind after a work trip to Florida with Meyer. He told her he wanted to visit a female friend of Sheri's.
Prosecutors tried to establish that anyone working for Joyce Meyer Ministries would be afraid of losing their job if they got divorced. But in the testimony Meyer said the policy was a little more nuanced than that.
"There is no such policy regarding divorce," said attorney Mike King with Joyce Meyer Ministries who added there is a policy regarding immorality, including adultery.
"As you heard Joyce say in her deposition on a case by case basis, depending on what the facts and circumstances were, certainly that could be grounds for termination," said King outside the Monroe County Courthouse.
In her testimony Meyer said it wasn't until after the murders that she became aware of the affair Coleman has since admitted to having with his wife's high school friend Tara Lintz.
But Meyer did say she knew the couple was in marriage counseling with a pastor on the staff of Joyce Meyer Ministries.
Meyer's son Dan testified that Sheri Coleman contacted him about the couple's marriage problems in the fall of 2008. Dan Meyer said he told his mother Joyce who suggested the counseling. She said Chris Coleman was agreeable with the idea and later reported to Dan that the marriage was improving.
Dan Meyer also testified that he became suspicious prior to know the couple was having trouble when he noticed an abnormally large bill from Coleman's company cell phone.
He said there was a number in Florida that Coleman called numerous times, including on overseas trips.
Dan Meyer said he called the number and hung up when heard a female voice on the other end of the line.
Meyer said when he confronted Chris Coleman about the calls Coleman told him it was a friend of Sheri's and he was calling to talk to her husband - helping him through marital issues.
Six friends of Sheri Coleman's testified that Sheri and Chris Coleman were having marital problems before Sheri and her two boys, Gavin and Garrett, were murdered.
They said Sheri expressed to them in phone conversations, emails and text messages that she was in a troubled marriage in late 2008 and that Chris wanted a divorce.
Meegan Turnbeaugh testified that Sheri sent her a text message that "Christopher had beat her."
The defense immediately objected and the judge told the jury to disregard that statement.
Another friend of Sheri's, Stephanie Jones, saved the text messages she received from Sheri on December 27, 2008. Sheri's text said, "Chris wants a divorce. He said me and my kids are in the way of his job."
Two friends who worked at Joyce Meyer Ministries said the ministry would have fired Chris if he was caught having an affair and that they knew of someone else that did get fired for having one.
Turnbeaugh said, "The policy is Chris would be terminated because of an adulterous affair."
The prosecution is trying to prove Coleman murdered his family because he wanted to be with his mistress and didn't think he could get a divorce and keep his job as a bodyguard for televangelist Joyce Meyer.
During the cross examination by the defense, the friends did say Sheri indicated to them during the spring of 2009 that she and Chris were in marriage counseling and things were improving.
Vanessa Riegeris, a neighbor of the Coleman's, testified that in the fall of 2008, Chris told her that he was thinking divorcing Sheri after the holidays.
"She spent too much money," Riegeris said Coleman told her about Sheri.
Then, Riegeris testified, "She did like to spend money."
Two crime scene investigators also took the stand on Friday morning. They showed a video of inside the house which showed the victims in their beds and the spray painted messages on the wall. They also showed the back basement window that was left open, which police believed may have been a point of entry for an intruder during the early stages of the investigation.
Also, pictures taken of Coleman's right arm were shown in court. He had an abrasion and some scratches.
The defense asked the crime scene investigators if any of the evidence collected at the scene implicated Chris Coleman in the crimes?
They said no, because they didn't analyze the evidence, just collected.
NewsChannel 5's Ryan Dean and Casey Nolen have been following the trial and are tweeting updates @ksdknews.