Vanessa Coleman sat quietly as Justice Kathleen Sullivan read out her long list of charges against her and told the federal jury in New York on Thursday to recommend she receive a very long prison sentence. She was convicted of ordering a hit on her abusive husband in 2009. And on Thursday, she was sentenced to life without parole.
At the opening of the trial, the accused hit man, Bart Freundlich, testified that Coleman hired him to kill her husband, Mykelti Howard, and his 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine. He also testified that, on the night of the killings, she gave him an agreement: kill two, or he would kill her as well. At the end of the trial, the jury convicted both Freundlich and Coleman of conspiring to kill Howard and Jasmine.
On Thursday, at the sentencing hearing, Butler described the drugs that Coleman used to lure her husband to a remote forest for murder. She detailed the same night of the killings.
Butler said that Coleman had set up a fake marriage to Howard in order to form a marriage certificate with a new husband she had met online — something that Butler said the prosecution had also not disputed. But when Howard came back from the Dominican Republic to the marital home on Long Island, the sergeant said, Coleman became terrified of the relationship. Her main concern, he said, was not the man who showed up on the patio wearing a bulletproof vest, but the beautiful teen next door who she believed may be able to win over her marriage to Howard.
Still, Coleman was adamant that she didn’t want Howard dead, her former co-defendant testified. She and her supporters cried in the courtroom as Butler described how she uttered words of reassurance to Freundlich before he went into the woods to kill Howard. “I’m not asking you to do this,” she said. She also told Freundlich that if he killed Howard, he would still have “got a kiss from Jasmine.”
Freundlich instead killed Howard, tried to kill Jasmine, and fled. But when he realized he had not killed her, Coleman ordered the hit on Jasmine. Freundlich went home to his wife and two daughters. They told police who he was. At trial, Coleman’s attorneys claimed that she could not have ordered the hit because she did not know the identity of the actual gunman. “It was his plan, he carried it out,” said Coleman’s attorney, Arman Javidian.
Butler disputed that. “She had to know — she personally gave this order,” he said.
Read the full story at the New York Times.
Ex-Army sergeant sentenced to life after admitting to arranging hit on husband, teen daughter
Man convicted of serving heroin, ecstacy, and murder on the Southside of Chicago
Man who ordered hit on his ex-wife who then served as her hit man says he had no regrets