BANGOR, Maine — A sobbing Keith Coleman confessed that he “hurt” his girlfriend two years ago but did not explain how in a video taped interview played for jurors Friday on the seventh day of his murder trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Coleman, 29, of Garland is charged with three counts of intentional or knowing murder in the Dec. 20, 2014, deaths of Christina Sargent, 36, and her children, 8-year-old Destiny Sargent and 10-year-old Duwayne Coke. Coleman also is charged with one count of gross sexual assault on the girl.
He was arrested Dec. 21, 2014, in Bucksport after the friends he was staying with learned he was wanted by police. Detectives with the Maine state police interviewed him that night at their Bangor offices.
The prosecution said in its opening statement last week that Coleman confessed to killing all three at the end of a more than four hour interview with Maine State Police.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray took an early lunch break Friday so that a technical problem with the video could be fixed. The audio and video had become out of synchronization by more than a minute.
Before the break, jurors heard detectives Greg Mitchell and Thomas Pickering pressing Coleman about four hours into the interview to tell them what happened at the trailer he shared with Sargent and her children. Coleman broke down and told them that he went to the store in Exeter, bought a beer, and returned home to find them dead
“I ran as soon as I saw them like that,” he said. “I ran. I came back [from the store] and the door was busted open. I saw Chrissy [expletive] up in the bed.”
Coleman said he thought his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend, who lived in New York, had killed them.
“I knew they were going to try to blame me for it me because Chrissy and me had been fighting so much,” he said.
Coleman also told detectives that he was too scared of the killers to call police.
“I’m not proud of the way I did,” he said, sobbing. “I ain’t proud of that [expletive]. Not at all. I couldn’t protect them and I ran.”
Detective Mitchell then told Coleman that he knew his account was not what really happened.
“We think you made a mistake that morning,” the detective said. “We know you did something wrong that you can’t take it back. Tell us what happened. It’s time.”
Coleman said that he was drunk that morning.
“I don’t remember,” he said. “I blacked out. Nothing is coming clear. We were fighting. I hurt her so bad.”
As Coleman sobbed harder, Mitchell offered to take him outside for a cigarette break so he could compose himself.
Jurors were to resume watching the video at that point after a lunch break.
His trial got underway on Wednesday before a jury of 10 men and six women, including four alternates, before Superior Court Justice Ann Murray.
If convicted, Coleman faces between 25 years and life in prison on the murder charges and up to 30 years in prison on the sexual assault charge. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that a defendant convicted on multiple counts of murder may be sentenced to life in prison.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.