Family sues Sheriff’s Office, claims identity of son’s killer concealed

Nearly two years after Rouche “Roddy” Coleman and his ex-wife were found fatally shot in her Baton Rouge home, Coleman’s parents continue their quest to try to prove the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office wrongly classified the deaths as a murder-suicide.

Their latest move came March 31 when they sued the Sheriff’s Office in federal District Court, alleging the office is “concealing the fact that a third party killed Roddy, as well as concealing the killer’s identity.”

The Sheriff’s Office reiterated this week that it stands firmly by its determination that Coleman, 38, fatally shot Kesia Coleman, 35 — and shot and wounded her son — before turning the gun on himself at the Magazine Drive home.

Alonzo and Diane Coleman, the parents of Rouche Coleman, are represented by former federal prosecutor Larry Jarrett, of Texas.

Jarrett called a news conference in Baton Rouge in June to challenge the Sheriff’s Office’s handling of the June 2012 case and announce he had asked the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge to look into the case.

“While the family called for the FBI to investigate, it is our practice not to confirm or deny the existence of investigations,” said Mary Beth Romig, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s New Orleans office, in an email Thursday.

Acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green confirmed his office received a letter from Jarrett on June 10, but said he could not discuss what action, if any, was taken.

Jarrett said Thursday that he did receive a response from federal authorities, but he declined to discuss the response. He also declined to elaborate on the suit.

“We’re not going to make any comment until after they (the Sheriff’s Office) respond (in court) to the complaint,” Jarrett said by phone.

The Colemans’ lawsuit contends, as Jarrett alleged in the summer, that 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 to them an incomplete recording of Kesia Coleman’s 911 call, and that the call contains the voice of an unidentified person.

The couple provided the tape and a transcript to a private audio analysis company, which reported the recording “contains a previously unheard statement by an unidentified person stating he recognizes a third party in the house,” the suit states.

“Kesia and Roddy were not wearing shoes when they were shot, as though they had been home together when the shooter arrived,” the suit suggests.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks released a statement Wednesday — the same one the office put out in June — in which she called the Coleman family’s allegations “unfortunate and completely unfounded” and said the Sheriff’s Office sympathizes with the grieving family.

“The Sheriff’s Office … stands firm behind its investigation,” Hicks stressed.

Sheriff’s detectives, administration, legal counsel and other agencies have gone “above and beyond” by meeting with the family to give them an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns, she added.

Hicks said 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 said Kesia Coleman’s juvenile son later identified Rouche Coleman as the attacker.

“Deputies on scene had the residence surrounded when they witnessed Rouche exit the residence, wearing latex gloves, and attempt to flee,” Hicks said in the statement. “Deputies witnessed him go back inside the residence, heard gunshots, and SWAT made entry to find only the child, Kesia and Rouche inside. No one entered or exited the residence during the period deputies were on scene.”

Hicks has said investigators did not believe DNA testing of the murder weapon would have affected the outcome of the case.

Rouche and Kesia Coleman married in 2006 and were divorced in August 2011.

Kesia Coleman received 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.

The Colemans’ suit, which has been assigned to state District Judge Shelly Dick, states Kesia Coleman was arrested the day before the shootings for domestic violence against Rouche Coleman.

The suit, which seeks damages from the Sheriff’s Office, complains the Sheriff’s Office charged Rouche Coleman’s parents more than $2,100 for records relating to their son’s death. The suit alleges the couple was charged more for crime records than the Sheriff’s Office charges similarly situated victims.

The suit claims the Sheriff’s Office violated the Louisiana Public Records Act and Alonzo and Diane Coleman’s constitutional rights.