Harry “Ray” Coleman, a Memphis real estate investor who owns a large amount of land in St. Charles Parish, was convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of a man in a Memphis parking lot last year.
His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 20.
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, FedEx mechanic Robert “Dutch” Schwerin Jr., 52, got into an argument with Coleman’s wife because he believed the couple’s Hummer H1 was parked too close to his GMC Yukon Denali. After Schwerin and Katheryn Coleman traded words, she went inside the nearby Villa Castrioti restaurant to get her husband.
Coleman said he tried to call 911, got no answer, and then got his .45-caliber pistol from his vehicle.
Coleman said that he put the gun to Schwerin’s mouth, told him that he and his wife were scared and to leave them alone. Coleman said he shot Schwerin in the chest after the mechanic knocked his wife down and began charging.
The Colemans had had wine that night and Schwerin, whose blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent, had had vodka and beer, according to the Commercial Appeal, who covered the trial.
Schwerin’s three children, Dallas, 22; Colt, 20; and Savannah, 16, witnessed the shooting.
A Criminal Court jury took two hours before returning a second-degree murder verdict against Coleman. Coleman, who reportedly tried to take his own life by stuffing ether-laced cotton balls in his nose after the verdict, faces up to 25 years in jail. Since being convicted last month, Coleman has been under a doctor’s care at the Memphis Mental Health Institute.
Coleman has a long history in St. Charles.
The Sheriff’s Office purchased land from Coleman to construct the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in Killona in 1999. The correctional center is named for Deputy Nelson Coleman, who died in the line of duty in 1982. The deputy is not related to Ray Coleman.
In 2008, Coleman sold 344 acres of batture land and 117 acres of contiguous dry land near Killona to Southern Recycling. He also donated land near Mary Plantation Road for use as a playground.
In June, Coleman offered to sell 10 acres to the parish for a Public Works Department yard. The parish instead purchased a 7.4 acre site in Hahnville.