A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that accused the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office of botching its investigation into an alleged murder-suicide that claimed the lives of a man and his former wife.
The Sheriff’s Office determined that Rouche “Roddy” Coleman fatally shot Kesia Coleman — and wounded her son — before turning the gun on himself at her Magazine Drive home in Baton Rouge on June 8, 2012.
Rouche Coleman’s parents, Alonzo and Diane Coleman, sued the Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux earlier this year, accusing the sheriff and his office of “concealing the fact that a third party killed Roddy, as well as concealing the killer’s identity.”
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick dismissed the suit last week, saying the Colemans failed to present any evidence to back their claims.
“As we’ve previously stated, the Sheriff’s Office certainly has sympathy for a grieving family, and we understand when dealing with a crime such as a murder/suicide where a child was also shot is very difficult,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said Thursday in an email.
“The Sheriff’s Office, however, conducted a very thorough investigation and stands firm behind the findings,” she added. “The allegations were unfortunate and unfounded; and we anticipated such an outcome.”
Former federal prosecutor Larry Jarrett, one of the Colemans’ attorneys, could not be reached for comment.
The suit contends sheriff’s investigators failed to interview key witnesses, including Rouche Coleman’s stepson, the surviving victim, and did not seek DNA testing of the murder weapon, which had been reported stolen. The Colemans also claim the Sheriff’s Office provided them an incomplete recording of Kesia Coleman’s 911 call and that the call contains the voice of an unidentified person.
The Sheriff’s Office received a call from Kesia Coleman at 4 a.m. on June 8, 2012, in which she identified Rouche Coleman by name as the intruder prior to the shootings. Hicks also has said Kesia Coleman’s juvenile son later identified Rouche Coleman as the attacker.
Deputies on scene had the home surrounded when they saw Rouche Coleman exit, wearing latex gloves, and try to flee, Hicks has said. Deputies then witnessed him go back inside the home and heard gunshots. SWAT officers went inside and found only Rouche Coleman, 38, Kesia Coleman, 35, and her son inside.
Rouche and Kesia Coleman married in 2006 and were divorced in August 2011. Kesia Coleman obtained a temporary restraining order April 18, 2012, that required her former husband to stay away from her home and an elementary school where she taught. She was scheduled to go to court about the restraining order on May 2, 2012 — the day the order was set to expire — but instead dismissed it on May 1, 2012, court records show.