A documented Houston gang member was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years in prison for the 2016 murder of his childhood friend, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
“This case, like many others, lingered on the docket because every time the defendant was free on bond, he was charged with a new crime, which postponed trial,” Ogg said. “Now, he will spend decades behind bars and the victim’s family will have some closure and be able to mourn in peace.”
Marcus Renard Coleman, 30, was convicted Monday of murder by a Harris County jury after five days in trial. After that verdict, prosecutors put on several witnesses for jurors to determine punishment. After hearing from some of the witnesses, Coleman pleaded to a 45-year prison sentence for murder. In exchange, Coleman can neither appeal his guilt nor the punishment. He will have to serve at least half of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.
At the time of the murder, Coleman, then 24, a documented member of the gang 5th Ward Circle, believed that there was a warrant out for his arrest over a domestic violence incident that occurred days earlier. As a result, his childhood friend, Adoniya Spiller, 24, allowed Coleman to stay at his residence.
Coleman and Spiller, who were both young fathers, got into an argument over a small amount of marijuana in the breezeway of Spiller’s apartment building.
Spiller’s 2-year-old daughter was standing next to her father, and he was holding Coleman’s newborn daughter in a baby carrier.
An eye witness testified that Coleman told Spiller to “put the baby down” before shooting him in the neck and abdomen. Spiller died the following day at the hospital.
When he committed the murder, Coleman was free on bail on the felony charge of felon in possession of a firearm. Following the murder, he jumped bail and fled to Louisiana.
Coleman was extradited from Louisiana and charged with murder. When he was returned to Harris County, he was freed on bail. He did not return to court for his court dates and was later rearrested for domestic violence. He was again granted bail and, while free on bond, he was charged with a second domestic violence case and again failed to appear for court. He was then rearrested and was charged with a new felony, this time for possession of cocaine. At that point, he was held in jail in lieu of a total of $750,000 bond.
Assistant District Attorney Jacob Salinas, who prosecuted the case with ADA Barbara Mousset, said the case illustrates the problems of the case backlog.
“This case saw Hurricane Harvey, it saw the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was continually rescheduled because he jumped bail three separate times and each time he picked up a new felony,” Salinas said. “This man killed his best friend, while free on bond, and then continually violated his bond conditions.”
Mousset noted that Coleman had been given several second chances but continued to choose crime, including gun violence.
“He was given every opportunity for rehabilitation, and he always went back to violence,” Mousset said. “The victim’s family is just grateful that it’s over. It’s just such a sad story.”