Coulter Found Guilty of Double Murder

James Coulter
James Coulter

Coulter Found Guilty of Double Murder
By: Arnold Wyrick

BENTON, Ill. - Two Southern Illinois families finally have the closure they've been looking for, for more than a year.  Their turmoil started on October 13, 2006.  That's when James Coulter shot his estranged wife Amanda Tope and her friend Jack Weston.
The shootings took place in Weston's home in Zeigler, Illinois.  A jury found him gulty of both first-degree murders Wednesday afternoon. 
"I would like to say that I think justice was served and that hopefully he will remain behind bars and keep the rest of us safe," said Debbie Frick.
The prosecutors built their case around Coulter based largely on circumstantial evidence.  But, shortly before the case began they got a break.
"We never dreamed that Kara Coulter would come in and tell us all that she did," Franklin County State's Attorney Tom Dinn said.
Coulter's own daughter took the stand to testify against her father in his double murder trial.  She told the jury that her dad told her, "I killed them."
Dinn says that wasn't the only thing that turned the case around for the state, during the trial.
"I'm still baffled as to why he took the stand in his own defense.  I think that was a serious tactical error on his part.  I don't know if he was trying to convince the jury that he was a nice guy or what," Dinn said.
Coulter sat still in the courtroom and showed little to no emotion as the guilty verdicts were handed down against him.
"There's only one sentence, and that is natural life in prison.  If you kill two people in the State of Illinois there's only two options death, and natural life," Dinn said.
The judge will decide what Coulter's time behind bars will be during his scheduled sentencing hearing on February 15, 2008.  In the meantime, the judge ordered Coulter held in the Franklin County jail without bond.