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Jurors selected for Coleman trial; Testimony will begin Monday

It took less than 40 minutes Tuesday morning to select a jury for the murder trial of Christopher Coleman, who is accused of strangling his wife and two sons.

John O'Gara, Jim Stern and Bill Margulis, Coleman's attorneys, and Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz and Special Prosecutor Ed Parkinson went through the selection in the Perry County Courthouse.

The defense used 16 preemptory strikes; the prosecution used 10.

The jury of 12 consists of 10 women and two men. All the four alternates are men.

Each of the potential jurors completed a 34-page questionnaire, then answered questions individually. There were 47 jurors in the pool when the selection process began.

Before the selection started, Circuit Judge Milton Wharton reaffirmed his earlier rulings on change of venue, finding that though some Perry County jurors said they had heard about the case, they hadn't heard anything that would prejudice them. He also pointed to similar demographics between Perry County and Monroe County.

Coleman, 34, could face the death penalty if he is convicted of strangling his wife Sheri, 31, and sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9. The three were found in their beds at their home on Robert Drive in Columbia on May 5 2009.

Police and prosecutors allege Coleman, former bodyguard for televangelist Joyce Meyer, was involved in an affair with his wife's high school friend, Tara Lintz, a Florida dog track waitress. The prosecution's expected motive for the murders is that Coleman wanted to marry Lintz, but would have lost his job with the ministry if he divorced his wife.

Testimony in the case will begin next Monday.

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

Editors note: Due to the nature of this story, commenting has been removed from it.

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