The retrial of Keith Coleman Jr. and Jayme Lynn Tubbs has been as strange as the original trial.
On the first day, one of the jurors defied the court’s order not to have a cell phone in the courtroom and was kicked off the jury after being held in contempt of court.
On Thursday, the second day of testimony, the court heard from Coleman’s two girlfriends who both lived with him at the same time, Chelsea Golden and Cierra Wheeler. During the lunch break, some trial attendees allegedly heard others threatening at least one of the witnesses, but the alleged statement was not made directly to the witness. The judge admonished the court upon return.
The women told of what they said was the horror of living with Coleman, and both recounted how they tried to leave him multiple times but he would find them and terrorize them until they came back.
More importantly, Golden was with Coleman the night April Jones and Will Polk were killed. She testified that Coleman had come home to where she was laying on the couch with their child and allegedly told her he was “going to kill April.” Golden said he threatened her and her child at gunpoint so she took the baby next door to Coleman’s grandmother’s house, then went with him.
According to Golden, they drove out to a remote spot where Coleman put the hood of her car up and took a phone call she believed to be from Tubbs. She and Dezimond “Cutthroat” Green and Jones and Polk were on their way, but Tubbs said Polk was there even though he wasn’t supposed to be. Coleman then allegedly hid in the woods.
When they came across Golden looking like she had car trouble, Polk, Green, and Tubbs got out of the vehicle and Jones stayed inside. The vehicle belonged to a woman named Rachel Russell who was allegedly another girlfriend of Coleman’s with whom Golden had previously had at least one altercation.
Coleman then allegedly came out of the woods and dragged Jones from the vehicle, beating her with a pistol.
Golden testified that Tubbs handed her a .22 rifle that she recognized as having been in the front seat passenger side of the vehicle and belonging to Coleman’s grandmother. She said she was instructed to hold it on Will, but she allegedly pointed it at the ground.
Golden testified that Polk started to “freak out” and “run around” when Coleman began to beat Jones.
Finally, Jones got up and started running, and Coleman allegedly shot her multiple times. She was able to make it into a field and according to Golden, she finally went down.
Golden testified that Polk said, “I won’t tell anybody,” and Coleman replied, “I know,” and then shot him in the chest.
Prior to Golden and Wheeler’s testimonies, a forensic anthropologist had testified about two injuries found on Polk’s skull that looked like they could be “high-velocity impact,” and a gunshot wound would fit that category. One was in the back of his head, near where the spine meets the skull, and the other was in the right cheek area. Both appeared to be external to internal, she said.
Based on that information, the defense hammered on Golden, asking if she had killed Polk. She didn’t waver in her answer as she asserted multiple times that she didn’t, and that she didn’t even know how to work the weapon.
“No I did not. Your client’s still alive,” she said to defense attorney Michael Carr. “Rachel Russell’s still alive. I ain’t shot nobody.”
Wheeler testified about how Coleman showed her a photo of a dead body and made her burn a bag of clothes before putting a garbage bag of something in her trunk. At the time, she didn’t know what was in the garbage bag.
The next day when she went to work, Wheeler called Coleman, telling him to come get whatever was in her trunk out, thinking it might be drugs. When he got there, she went to put the bag in his vehicle and felt something she thought was a nose or an ear.
“What did you do?” she asked him, and said he allegedly grinned at her.
Golden testified that she saw Coleman dispose of a backpack with Jones’ head and hands in a pond behind their home, and that she saw him walk into the woods with a bag containing Polk’s head and hands, saying that if one of the two needed to be found, it should be Polk since he wasn’t supposed to be there.
The defense pressed both women on whether they were receiving any deals from the prosecution to testify against Coleman, referring to 2021 when both were charged with helping Coleman escape from the Quitman County jail. Both knew they would receive probation, but both testified they didn’t realize their charges would be non-adjudicated.
On Friday, the defense is expected to call another forensic scientist. Coleman is also expected to take the stand.