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Joseph Coleman's lawyer says kidnapping investigation wasn't thorough

DADE CITY — An attorney for Joseph Coleman, who is accused of attacking his wife with a gun and nearly killing her, argued Wednesday that detectives failed to investigate the case thoroughly and decided from the get-go that Coleman was guilty.

Authorities say Coleman, 56, went to his estranged wife's house in Lacoochee on May 2, 2006, in a jealous rage. He believed she was having an affair, so he kicked in her door and shoved a gun in her face, threatening to kill her, according to the allegations. In the struggle, the gun went off and Sylvia Denise Grant, now 36, was wounded in the neck and shoulder. She got into their van with Coleman driving, she said, but instead of taking her to get help, he told her he was going to drive around until she passed out from blood loss.

Grant bailed out of the van and was rescued by a phone company worker nearby. She told paramedics that her husband had shot her.

Coleman was arrested a few hours later, found hiding in some shrubs off Polite Street in Trilby. He is charged with kidnapping and attempted murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

Pasco sheriff's Detective James Medley interviewed Coleman hours after the shooting and said in Coleman's version of events, he walked to Grant's house, found the door open and his wife inside bleeding.

Medley built his case on Grant's statements, a witness who saw the couple in the van and a surveillance video from a business on U.S. 301 showing Grant fleeing the van.

But Coleman's attorney, Chris Carver, pressed Medley on some omissions in the investigation.

Why didn't he take a print of Coleman's shoe to see if it matched bloody footprints inside Grant's house?

Why didn't he verify the claim that neither Coleman nor Grant had a phone with which to call for help?

Why did he have Coleman submit to a test to detect for gunshot residue on his hands that Medley knew to be unreliable?

"It's a good question," Medley replied. "I don't know why. I just had it done."

Finally, Carver wondered why authorities never searched for any other suspects.

"You have never looked at anybody else in this case?" Carver asked.

"No reason to, that's correct," Medley said.

"No reason to because the wife said it was him?" Carver asked.

"I've never had any leads or any other information," Medley said.

Both sides rested Wednesday afternoon. Jurors will begin deliberating this morning.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Joseph Coleman's lawyer says kidnapping investigation wasn't thorough 11/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 8:59pm]

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