DADE CITY — Joseph Coleman had a history of abusing his wife, but Sylvia Denise Grant never cooperated with authorities to prosecute the cases.
This week, however, she took the stand and described how on May 2, 2006, Coleman burst into her Lacoochee house and shoved a pistol in her mouth. In a struggle, it went off, striking her in the throat and shoulder. They then got into their van — with Coleman still holding the gun — to go for help. But Grant said her husband turned the other way and she had to jump out.
A phone company worker nearby came to her rescue and took her to a fire station for treatment.
Coleman, who was found hours later, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping.
On Thursday, a jury convicted him of kidnapping and a lesser charge of attempted second-degree murder.
He has maintained that he went to Grant' s house that morning, found the door open and her bleeding inside.
His attorney, Chris Carver, said investigators left numerous holes in the investigation, after deciding from the get-go that Coleman was guilty.
Assistant State Attorney Stacey Sumner argued that Grant's testimony corroborated the other evidence — including a witness who saw the couple in the van and Grant with a towel around her neck. A surveillance video from a business on U.S. 301 captured Grant jumping out of the van.
"It was his intent to come in there and kill her," Sumner told jurors.
"He failed to do so based upon her sheer will to live."
Because Coleman committed this crime within three years of being released from prison, prosecutors say, he should get an automatic life sentence.
Grant, 36, has divorced Coleman and slowly recovered from her injuries. She still speaks in a raspy voice because of damage to her voice box.
She was not in court for the verdict Thursday, but plans to make a statement when her ex-husband is sentenced next month.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.