Second Coleman trial postponed

 

A Thibodaux woman accused of threatening a witness in her battery and kidnapping trial last month will not be arraigned on those charges until she is sentenced for her part in the beating that crippled a Natchitoches man.

Jennifer Coleman, 26, was scheduled for arraignment Tuesday on charges of simple battery, obstruction of justice and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling. The arraignment was postponed until Sept. 12.

Lafourche Parish District Attorney Camille A. “Cam” Morvant II said his office is holding off on Coleman’s arraignment until District Judge Jerome J. Barbera III sentences her Aug. 28 for the near-fatal beating of Frank Byonne.

“We are waiting to see what the sentence will be,” Morvant said. “Then we will make our decision about whether or not to prosecute her on these charges.”

Coleman faces up to 15 years in prison for aggravated-second degree battery and up to 40 years for second-degree kidnapping. She was convicted of both charges July 11.

Morvant said if Barbera gives Coleman a stiff sentence in the beating case, his office might not deem it necessary to try her for threatening the witness.

Coleman was arrested July 10, the second-to-last day of her trial, for threatening Lateisha Van Buren, a former friend who testified against her in the case. Coleman reportedly busted into Van Buren’s home and hit her, threatening that she would “take out” those who testified against her.

Van Buren and several other witnesses testified that Coleman beat Byonne, 44, with a baseball bat May 25, 2015, after he reportedly stole several items, including a VCR and Tommy Hilfiger shoes, from a Plantation Road apartment she was vacating.

The kidnapping charge against Coleman stemmed from two men at the scene of the beating, Anthony Ayro and Derek Adams, pulling Byonne from the Mini-Food Mart on Tiger Drive, where he tried to escape Coleman.

Prosecutor Julie Cullen with the state Attorney General’s Office argued that while Coleman did not pull Byonne from the store, she provoked the men into doing so. Once Byonne was outside, Coleman and at least one other person, Latasha Green, continued hitting him.

Green was given a suspended sentence for simple battery. Adams and Ayro are serving prison sentences for simple kidnapping.

Byonne, who suffered massive brain damage, now resides in a Natchitoches nursing home.