The families of Will Polk and April Jones are facing the heartache of a new trial for their suspected killers this week as opening statements and testimony start today.
The retrial was granted after the Quitman County District Attorney’s office allegedly didn’t produce some possibly exculpatory evidence in the case. Keith Coleman Jr. and Jayme Lynn Tubbs were both originally convicted in the homicides around this time last year.
Polk and Jones were killed in 2019 and Polk’s decapitated head and hands were found two years ago. Witnesses testified that Jones had allegedly stolen some drugs from Coleman, and that he slept with her and just hours later killed her and Polk.
According to testimony, Polk’s last words were, “I won’t tell,” to which Coleman allegedly replied, “I know,” and then shot him. Coleman got on the stand, however, and testified that a girlfriend had shot Polk in the face, which could muddy the waters on what actually killed him if it were proven to be true. The only remains of Polk that were found were his head and hands, therefore other evidence would be hard to find.
Defense attorney Mike Carr sought to establish reasonable doubt by referring to what scientists call a “defect” in Polk’s skull that Mississippi Forensics Laboratory Forensic Anthropologist Anastasia Holobinko said could not be ruled out as a gunshot wound. There were metal fragments — by policy automatically labeled as “bullet fragments” — found inside and with the skull, and Carr pointed out how those could tell the story that matched Coleman’s.
Meanwhile, witnesses conceivably endangered their lives in the first trial, telling the stories of Coleman’s actions surrounding the deaths. One ex-girlfriend told of driving around unknowingly carrying a decapitated head in her vehicle. Another testified to seeing Coleman dispose of a bag full of body parts in a pond.
Coleman’s own father testified against him.
We will update as we get more information.