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Judge Appoints Self To Hear Chris Coleman Murder Case

(Family Photo)
Chris Coleman, 32, and Sheri Coleman, 31, with their two children 11-year-old Garett and 9-year-old Gavin.

WATERLOO, Ill. (CBS/ AP) A new judge will preside over the case of Chris Coleman, the southwestern Illinois man charged with killing his wife and two sons.

St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic assigned the case to himself on Monday. Monroe County Circuit Judge Dennis Doyle used to have the case, but he stepped down at the request of attorneys for Christopher Coleman.

Baricevic isn't certified to hear death penalty cases, so if prosecutors seek the death penalty for Coleman, another judge will be named.

31-year-old Sheri Coleman and her children, 11-year-old Garett and 9-year-old Gavin, were found strangled to death in their Columbia home on May 5, 2009. Coleman's husband, Chris, is charged with three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of his wife and children. Authorities have said that all three victims were strangled with some type of wire, rope or cord.

Coleman is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the May 5 slayings of Sheri Coleman and their sons, Garett and Gavin. The bodies were found in the family's Columbia home.

Chris Coleman was having an affair with Tara Lintz, a Florida woman. Lintz was interviewed by police in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the days following the murders. She admitted to investigators that she had sexually explicit communications with Chris Coleman by phone and email. She said their sexual relationship began in November 2008 and the two planned to get married in 2010 after Chris Coleman had divorced his wife.

Lintz was a high school friend of Sheri Coleman, and had worked at strip club in Florida. Lintz told police she had talked to her lover the evening of May 4, just hours before the murders.

Chris Coleman maintains his innocence. He has pleaded not guilty and has been ordered to stand trial. He remained jailed Thursday without bond.

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(AP Photo/Belleville News-Democrat)
Chris Coleman
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