Jury convicts Coalter of murder

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Sentencing Sept. 8




TELL CITY – Jurors deliberated more than six hours Monday before finding Randal Coalter guilty of murder in the March 1 death of David Weedman.

The verdict, delivered late in the afternoon, followed a week-long trial in which jurors heard contrasting views of Weedman’s death inside his home and the evidence that prosecutor’s said pointed to Coalter.

In sometimes dramatic closing argument, Perry County Prosecutor Jason Hoch said the evidence and testimony showed Coalter was guilty. Hoch said the man left Weedman’s home on the day he was last seen alive, lied to police when asked about Weedman’s death and had told his girlfriend, Michelle Dukes, that she needed to keep their story straight or he would face prison time for murder.

Dukes testified during the trial that she was hit repeatedly by Coalter, who had accused her of having a sexual relationship with Weedman. Dukes said she last saw Weedman and Coalter on the porch of Weedman’s home and said Coalter was in a rage.

Weedman’s body was found by family members. His death was first suspected to be a suicide but investigators received a tip that foul play might have been involved. An autopsy showed that the bullet wound to the man’s head was in the back, not through his mouth as originally suspected.

Hoch told jurors that Coalter most likely sat or held Weedman down and shot him in the back of the head. He pointed to the 10-inch barrel on the gun and said a self-inflicted wound to the back of the head was unlikely. Using a state-police detective as a model for Weedman, he showed jurors how he thought Weedman was shot.

Defense attorney Rod Acchiardo said the evidence should have left serious doubt in jurors’ minds and said there was no direct evidence tying Coalter to Weedman’s death. He asked jurors to use their common sense, which he reminded them they had pledged during jury selection, and to return a not-guilty verdict.

The theatrics of prosecutor and defense attorney wielding the gun, rendered safe for the trial, and Hoch’s shouting to mimic Coalter’s alleged words to Weedman on the day he died, had jurors on their feet at times.

Coalter, 45, who did not take the stand, faces between 45 and 65 years in prison when sentenced Sept. 8.