WATERLOO • Internationally known televangelist Joyce Meyer will testify at the murder trial of her former bodyguard, Christopher Coleman, via a recorded deposition to be taken this week, according to court documents filed Monday.
Prosecutors said Meyer, whose Joyce Meyer Ministries is based in Fenton, will not be available during Coleman's murder trial, which is scheduled to start with jury selection next week and opening statements April 25. So she will submit to questions from lawyers on Wednesday at the Monroe County Courthouse in a session to be recorded and played for jurors later.
The deposition is expected to be open to the public.
It will be the first time Meyer has appeared in a public setting connected to the case since May 5, 2009, when she visited Coleman's home in Columbia, Ill., to show support the morning his wife and two sons were found slain.
Christopher Coleman was pulling down a six-figure salary and traveling around the globe as the security chief for Meyer. Friends of his wife, Sheri Coleman, have testified that she told them she was afraid of him, and that he felt she and the boys were in the way of his career. They also testified that Sheri Coleman had said her husband did not see divorce as an option, because it would cost him his job.
Dan Meyer, Joyce Meyer's son and CEO of the ministry's U.S. operations, also will submit to a recorded deposition to be shown at trial.
The couple had received marriage counseling through the ministry.
"Our understanding was that things were improving," Mike King, a lawyer for the ministry, has previously said.
Joyce Meyer is holding a "conference tour" event April 28-30 in Hampton, Va., according to her website.
Coleman, 34, is being held without bail on first-degree murder charges in the strangulation deaths of his wife and two sons. Officials said that Coleman, who was having an affair with a woman in Florida, may have killed his family to escape his marriage without sacrificing his job with Meyer to a no-divorce policy.
At a hearing Monday, Circuit Judge Milton Wharton said he will decide later on a defense challenge to use of a forensic linguist as a prosecution witness.
Robert A. Leonard, the linguist, has compared a series of threat letters and sprayed messages aimed at the Colemans with a database of some 200 emails known to be written by Christopher Coleman. Leonard concluded that the language patterns are consistent, and further said that the threatening letters and messages appeared to come from a single person, not a copycat.
Police alleged that Coleman staged the crime scene to point blame toward detractors of Meyer. They claim that Coleman spray-painted the walls of his home with words and phrases such as "punished" and "I saw you leave, (obscenity) you, I am always watching."
In testimony Monday, Ron Butters, a defense expert, questioned the scientific method behind Leonard's conclusions.
Get updates on the Coleman trial by following reporter Nicholas J.C. Pistor on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nickpistor