Coleman seeks self-representation

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Christopher Coleman

Christopher Coleman is seeking approval from a judge to represent himself in continued efforts to receive a new trial in the 2009 murders of his wife and two sons for which he was convicted.

On Sept. 23, Coleman filed a motion for change of counsel to pro se status. He was most recently represented by attorney Lloyd Cueto of Belleville.

Coleman, who was convicted in 2011 for the May 5, 2009 strangulation murders of his wife Sheri and sons Garret and Gavin in Columbia, is serving concurrent life sentences in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

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 time stamp, or metadata, inconsistencies on photos used at trial turned the tide toward a unanimous guilty verdict.

The latest matter involves a post-conviction relief petition filed by Coleman last year. That filing alleges this metadata, as well as ineffective counsel, led to the guilty verdict.

With Coleman present at the Monroe County Courthouse, Judge Stephen McGlynn ruled during an April evidentiary hearing that the metadata was not extraneous, could not be considered prejudicial and did not violate Coleman’s constitutional rights.

McGlynn also decided, however, he wanted another evidentiary hearing on the matter of Coleman having ineffective counsel. 

That hearing will focus on why Coleman’s lawyers did not object to the inclusion of metadata and why they did not develop an argument regarding fingerprint evidence on the outside of a window at the Coleman residence and on a digital video recorder faceplate found along the side of the highway. 

The fingerprints on both surfaces did not match Coleman.

In Coleman’s pro se motion, he claims to have notified the court on numerous occasions over the past 3.5 years about his disapproval of appointed counsels.

“In the past three months, following these hearings, Mr. Coleman has notified the court that he requested new counsel of which the court did not reply,” the filing states. “Mr. Coleman then, through family, sought to hire new counsel which as well was proven unsuccessful. It is the defendant’s intent to move forward as his own representation.”

Coleman also requested any future hearings be conducted electronically through phone or video conference, as he has returned to Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisc.

“The judge will require a hearing to allow him to go pro se, but also to allow his appointed counsel to withdraw,” Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann told the Republic-Times. “We have discussed dates to get this process finalized on numerous occasions. We are attempting to set a date now to address these issues and the final evidentiary hearing.” 

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