Attorneys for a man accused in the 2010 Valentine’s Day slaying at a Hall County park claim their client was unfairly pressured into confessing.
Reginald Coleman is on trial for murder and two counts related to gun possession in connection with the alleged contract killing.
The prosecution alleges that Coleman shot and killed Richard Schoeck for $10,002. Schoeck’s wife, Stacy Schoeck, is accused of arranging the killing through Lynitra Ross, a mutual friend.
Defense attorneys argue investigators used Coleman’s concern for Ross — who was indicted in June 2010 for acting as the liaison between Coleman and Schoeck — to extract a confession. They submitted briefs to the court July 1.
The state issued briefs Friday afternoon responding to the defense’s report.
The state documents say Coleman was read his Miranda rights, waived his rights and freely gave a statement to investigators.
Earlier this year, the court reviewed six hours of footage that showed Coleman confessing to being near the crime scene in Belton Bridge Park, but not to killing Schoeck. In the interview, Coleman said he paid two other men $3,000 to pull the trigger.
When Judge Jason Deal receives the briefs, he will determine whether Coleman’s statements in 2010 should be admissible in court.
The briefs state Coleman was read his rights at his arrest, but that they were not sufficiently explained. Coleman then spent most of the day being interrogated, the briefs state. The defense argues Coleman was sleep-deprived and hungry during his interrogation.
In contrast, the state documents say Coleman’s time with investigators was “cordial and pleasant, that the officers were accommodating with food, beverage and restroom breaks and that no physical threats or force were used.”
According to the defense’s briefs, Coleman confessed to being at the scene of the shooting only because he was told Ross’ fate rested in his hands. The defense argues that investigators made Coleman believe Ross’ sentence would be lightened or lifted if he made a confession.
The defense also says Coleman broke down in tears when he discovered Ross had been arrested.
According to the briefs, Coleman believed his confession “presented hopes of benefit on behalf of co-defendant and close friend/lover, and most likely mother of his child, Lynitra Ross.”
Defense briefs also claim Coleman was only minimally informed of his Miranda Rights.
Court documents in response state Coleman was clear on his rights, and that he was familiar with the court system since he’d been in prison before. They also argue Coleman was not on drugs or alcohol and never asked questions regarding his rights.