Family challenges finding of murder-suicide

A former federal prosecutor has asked the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge to investigate a 2012 case he claims was wrongly concluded to be a murder-suicide.

The attorney, Larry E. Jarrett, called a news conference on Monday to challenge the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office’s handling of the June 2012 case of Rouche Coleman. Authorities have said Coleman fatally shot his ex-wife Kesia Coleman and shot and wounded her son before turning the gun on himself.

Jarrett claimed investigators, in a “rush to judgment,” failed to interview key witnesses — including the surviving victim — and did not seek DNA testing of the murder weapon, which had been reported stolen. He also claimed 911 recordings in the case appeared to have been manipulated.

“Because the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office wanted to close a case, they made these very, very serious accusations and really sullied the name of not only Rouche Coleman but the entire Coleman family,” Jarrett said. “We believe that the civil rights of Mr. Rouche Coleman have been violated, and we provided that information and requested a federal investigation.”

Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, dismissed Jarrett’s accusations as “unfortunate and completely unfounded.”

“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,” Hicks said in a statement. “The Sheriff’s Office, however, stands firm behind its investigation.”

The shooting happened after 4 a.m. at Kesia Coleman’s home on Magazine Drive. Kesia Coleman called authorities to report someone inside her home, and dispatchers heard her calling her ex-husband’s name shortly before they lost contact with her.

Arriving deputies found Rouche Coleman and Kesia Coleman dead inside the home.

In the months before her death, Kesia Coleman had filed — though later dismissed — a petition for protection from abuse against her ex-husband, court records show.

While Rouche Coleman’s family asserts someone else is responsible for the shooting, Hicks noted that deputies had the residence surrounded when they witnessed Rouche Coleman exit the residence at one point wearing latex gloves and attempt to flee.

“No one entered or exited the residence during the period deputies were on scene,” she said, adding the surviving victim had in fact implicated Rouche Coleman in the shooting.

Hicks said investigators thought DNA testing of the murder weapon “would not have affected the outcome of the case.”