WATERLOO • A judge here dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit Wednesday afternoon that sought damages from the Joyce Meyer Ministries over former bodyguard Christopher Coleman’s murder of his family.
The decision will be appealed, said Tony Romanucci, one of the attorneys for the mother and brother of Sheri Coleman, who live in the Chicago area.
Circuit Judge Richard Aguirre said it was a tough case that would benefit from review by the appellate court.
“I cannot concede in any way how Joyce Meyer Ministries is guilty of foreseeing that an employee would kill his family,” Aguirre said while announcing the dismissal.
The suit alleged the ministry should have known that Christopher Coleman, its security chief, was behind anonymous threats aimed at himself and his family before he killed his wife, Sheri, and their sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, at their home in Columbia, Ill., in 2009. It also said the ministry should have told Sheri Coleman that her husband was having an extra-marital affair.
Christopher Coleman is still named as a defendant in the wrongful-death suit. He also is appealing the sentence of life in prison without parole he received after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
No attorney at Wednesday’s hearing represented Christopher Coleman, and attorney information for Coleman related to the case was unavailable.
Prosecutors said he strangled his family to clear the way to be with his girlfriend, while bypassing a divorce that would have revealed adultery that might have cost him his six-figure job. The threats, officials said, were part of a plan to make it appear the killings were committed by a phantom enemy of Meyer’s work, who lashed out at Coleman as her bodyguard.
Joyce Meyer and her husband, David, had been listed as defendants in the suit as individuals, but have been removed. Mike King, a lawyer from Oklahoma defending the Fenton-based international television ministry, has argued all along that it had nothing to do with the deaths.
The suit, originally filed in 2011, was dismissed last year for lack of specific allegations and then refiled.