Convicted murderer denied gun charge acquittal

A convicted killer’s gun charge will hold, the judge decided Friday. He awaits sentencing in a double-murder and is alleged to have committed a third.

Joseph S. Coleman III, 38, was found guilty in the Oct. 31, 2016, home invasion and murder of Shane Wright, 27, and his mother, Kristine Kibler, 50, at their home on Poplar Street. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20.

Investigations into that case led detectives to further charge Coleman in the Aug. 30, 2016, murder of Christopher Wilkins, 27, on Park Avenue. A pre-trial is slated for Dec. 12.

The defense counsel, Jeana A. Longo, argued on Friday that the commonwealth failed to prove the gun was the same used in the murder of Wight and Kibler, a necessary requirement following Judge Nancy L. Butts’ amendment and specification of the charge.

Whether the gun was loaded wasn’t clear, nor the color as shown in court, she said.

“The gun presented at the trial was black,” said Longo. “Coleman described a gun that was silver.”

The commonwealth is required to present evidence that Coleman had the gun, not that it passed through at some point in time, said Longo.

“They still have to find the gun they sold,” she said, adding that a gun seeming to look like another does not satisfy reasonable doubt.

A gun magazine found underneath a victim also was cause for ambiguity, said Longo. The officers at the scene testified that they didn’t remember if the gun had bullets in it, but Police Agent Trent Peacock said the gun was unloaded when sent to a lab for testing.

District Attorney Kenneth Osokow noted that a handgun can be detached from a magazine with a bullet still in the chamber.

“It seems to me that you’re messing with the facts or words,” said Judge Marc F. Lovecchio in reference to the testimony.

Both Coleman and Casey N. Wilson, 22, the driver, identified the gun in the picture during the trial, he said.

Specific testimony would have to be found saying the gun was unloaded, he added.

The weight of evidence to reach acquittal must be “to such a degree as to shock the conscience,” said Judge Lovecchio in his ruling. “The evidence provided at the trial was not only sufficient but also clearly of sufficient weight as to support the verdict.”

“The facts by the defense are not so weighty as to deny justice,” he added.


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