Judge Stephen McGlynn ruled Wednesday that Chris Coleman’s post conviction petition process will continue to the step of an evidentiary hearing in at least one matter.
Coleman, who was convicted in 2011 for the May 5, 2009 murders of his wife, Sheri, and two young sons, Garret, 11, and Gavin, 9, in Columbia is serving concurrent life sentences in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
Wednesday marked Coleman’s first appearance at the Monroe County Courthouse since 2011. Members of Coleman’s family were in attendance at the hearing.
Last year, he filed a petition for post conviction relief which, if granted, would afford him a new trial in the same Monroe County court that convicted him. In December, Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann filed a motion to dismiss that petition.
On Wednesday, Judge McGlynn heard four main arguments as to whether or not Coleman’s petition should be dismissed.
The judge decided he needed an evidentiary hearing for at least one of them, which relates to how metadata connected to sexually photographs of Coleman and his mistress, Tara Lintz, was seen by the jury.
McGlynn said he needed the hearing to determine if that metadata, which was not admitted as evidence, got to the jury by accidental oversight or “nefarious conduct” by the state.
“This is a big case,” McGlynn said. “This is serious. We want the community to have confidence that the right verdict was reached. We want the community to have confidence that this was a fair trial. And we certainly want the defendant to understand that he had a fair trial.”
Metadata is information about other data. In this case, it includes items such as dates when photographs were taken or modified that seem to contradict the timeline the defense outlined for Coleman’s affair with Lintz. A jury consisting of Perry County residents bused in every morning for the 2011 trial rendered the guilty verdict. Jurors interviewed after that trial said a time stamp inconsistency on photos used at trial turned the tide toward a unanimous guilty verdict.
The date of the next hearing has not yet been announced, but McGlynn said they are working to hold it in early to mid-April.
Read more on this story in next week’s Republic-Times.