Sheri Coleman's family appeals ruling in wrongful death suit

News-DemocratApril 23, 2013 

An appeal has been filed to restore a dismissed wrongful death lawsuit against Joyce Meyer Ministries, which employed Christopher Coleman who was convicted of the strangulation of his wife and two sons.

Family members of Sheri, Garett and Gavin Coleman filed their appeal on Monday after Associate Judge Richard Aguirre dismissed the suit in February.

"We think the court in Monroe County is in error and we are asking the appellate court in Mount Vernon to review the decision and allow us to proceed with this wrongful death action on behalf of Sheri and her two sons," said Jack Carey, the Belleville attorney who represents Mario Weiss, Sheri's brother, and Angela DiCicco, her mother.

Sheri Coleman, 31, and her sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, were found strangled in their beds in their Columbia home on May 5, 2009.

Aguirre seemed to anticipate the appeal during the February hearing, telling the lawyers that he "felt good about having a panel of three judges look at this."

Coleman, 36, who is currently serving life without the possibility of parole, earned a six-figure salary with the ministry, where he was a bodyguard for Meyers and head of security. Police asserted that Coleman sent death threats to his family using his ministry-issued computer and communicated with his mistress, Florida dog-track waitress Tara Lintz, on his ministry-issued cellphone.

Carey and his co-counsel Tony Romanucci of Chicago argued that the ministry knew the Colemans were experiencing marital troubles because it provided marital counseling and could have discovered the affair and the death threats on their electronic equipment, if they bothered to look.

Mike King, the lawyer for Joyce Meyers Ministries, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He has argued that the employer is not responsibility for ensuring an employee's conduct.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.