WATERLOO — A suit against Joyce Meyer Ministries brought by the family of Sheri Coleman, who was murdered along with her two sons in Columbia in 2009, was thrown out Wednesday by a St. Clair County judge.
Sheri Coleman's husband Chris Coleman, the son of a minister and a former bodyguard for Meyer, was convicted of all three murders and is serving life without parole in a prison in an undisclosed state. All three were strangled in separate bedrooms of their home. At trial, testimony revealed that Chris Coleman wanted to marry his extramarital lover, a former Florida dog-track waitress who was once Sheri Coleman's close friend.
Judge Richard Aguirre, sitting in Monroe County Circuit Court, granted the request of attorney Mike King, who represents the ministries, and dismissed the lawsuit.
"The reason the judge threw it out is because we alleged that under Illinois law ... Joyce Meyer Ministries has no responsibility for the acts and actions of Chris Coleman, simply because he was an employee of ours, when he, in his private life, chose to take the life of his wife and two children," King said.
Aguirre allowed the family's attorney, Jack Carey of Belleville, 30 days to amend the dismissed complaint and present another.
Carey said he does not view the dismissal as permanent, but temporary and disagreed with King's conclusion that Aguirre was agreeing with the ministry's legal argument.
"The judge wanted more specificity under the law as to why the ministry was responsible," Carey said, "we will amend any deficiency and present our case again.
King said, "It is not atypical for a judge to allow the other side an opportunity to try to correct their pleadings if they can. But at this point, based upon the allegations in the petition, the judge agrees with us that Joyce Meyer Ministries has no responsibility for any actions of Chris Coleman in the deaths of his wife or his children."
Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2625.