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State

Court orders new trial for Peoria man

PEORIA (AP) – A Peoria man who was convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl and of home invasion nearly 2 decades ago will get a new trial.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the new trial for 39-year-old Christopher L. Coleman. The Journal Star reports he is expected in Peoria in the next few months for the trial.

He was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated criminal sexual assault in the 1994 crime and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He must serve at least 30 years.

A circuit judge in 2010 refused to grant Coleman a new trial, saying new witnesses produced by Coleman lacked credibility. A state appellate court the next year agreed.

But since Coleman was convicted, others who weren’t charged have said they were in fact involved and Coleman was not. The statute of limitations has run out so those people can’t be charged.

And Supreme Court justices pointed out that no forensic evidence linked Coleman to the attack.

“We believe that the evidence presented by the defendant at the evidentiary hearing, together with the evidence presented by the defendant at trial, places the evidence presented by the state in a new light and undermines our confidence in that evidence and the result it produced,” they wrote. “Weighed against the state’s evidence, the defendant’s new evidence is conclusive enough that another trier of fact would probably reach a different result.”

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