December 25, 2012
Peoria Journal Star
Court will hear arguments in Peoria home invasion case
By: Matt Buedel
A man who has spent 18 years in prison for a home invasion he and others say he did not commit is about to have his word heard by the Illinois Supreme Court.
An appeal of Christopher L. Coleman's denial of a new trial will be the subject of oral arguments at 9 a.m. Jan. 15 in Springfield. His case has been shepherded through the appeal process by students and attorneys with Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.
"It's good that we're at this point," said Karen Daniel, who has worked on 39-year-old Coleman's case over the last several years. "We'll get a decision hopefully within a few months after the argument."
Coleman has been incarcerated since August 1994 after an armed home invasion in the 1500 block of West Millman Street in which a 16-year-old girl was raped. He was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated criminal sexual assault and sentenced to two consecutive 30-year terms.
Coleman's petition for a new trial was filed in Peoria County in 2009, and was denied by then-Circuit Judge Michael Brandt in April 2010. The denial was upheld by the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa.
During the hearing before Brandt and in depositions filed in the case, several men who were never convicted of crimes connected to the home invasion said they had committed the crime, and Coleman was not present.
Brandt, however, ruled in part that their testimony was not reliable and that such testimony likely would not have changed the minds of the jury members at Coleman's original trial.
The oral arguments scheduled to be heard in front of the Illinois Supreme Court will be archived online and available to view shortly after the hearing.