The 12-member jury panel that convicted Robert Coleman of the 1st degree murder of the Rev. Julian Brandon of Blanchard, today recommended Coleman be sentenced to die by lethal injection.
The sequestered jury found Coleman guilty of the New Year's Day 2003 homicide around 7 pm Friday (Feb. 3, 2012), after deliberating just a little more than an hour.
Coleman - and his girlfriend, Brandy Holmes - were accused of killing Brandon, a 70-year-old retired minister, in his Blanchard home on New Year's Day 2003. Both Holmes and Coleman were convicted of that murder in separate trials, and both were sentenced to the death penalty.
Although Holmes' conviction and sentence were upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court, Coleman's conviction was overturned by the state's highest court on Nov. 2, 2007; the case was remanded back to Caddo District Court for a new trial.
Caddo District Judge Scott Crichton presided over the first trial; Caddo District Judge Michael A. Pitman presided over the new trial.
The penalty phase of the trial began at 1:30 pm Saturday (Feb. 4, 2012) and continued throughout the weekend and all day Monday, concluding around 7:30 pm.
This morning, Assistant District Attorneys Brady O'Callaghan and Lea Hall handled closing arguments for the prosecution, asking the jury to vote for the death penalty due to the particularly heinous aspects of the homicide that not only killed Brandon, but left his wife Alice to die.
The prosecution told the jury Coleman also was involved in the homicide of Terrance Blaze, and had served hard prison time for armed robbery in his home state of Mississippi.
Kathryn Sheely, a member of the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office, did closing arguments for the defense. She acknowledged the heinous nature of the crime for which Coleman was convicted, but asked the jury to vote against the death penalty due to his being mentally retarded. It is against the law to execute a mentally-retarded person.
Defense attorneys asked that jury members be polled on the verdict and all 12 confirmed their verdict. The defense also asked that jurors be polled on whether or not they found Coleman mentally retarded and all 12 confirmed they did not find him mentally retarded.
The 2nd trial began Jan. 30, and was ongoing throughout the past 2 weekends. It took a full week to find a death-penalty- qualified jury and select 12 members and 2 alternates acceptable to both the prosecution and defense attorneys.
In addition to Hall, the state was represented by Caddo Parish ADAs Brady O'Callaghan and Dale Cox.
David Price of Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office headed up Coleman's defense team, with co-counsels Bruce Dodd, Bruce Unangst and Sheely assisting.