Defendant Pleads Guilty to Murder and Kidnapping

A defendant who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and escaping prison was sentenced Sept. 30.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Bernard Coleman III, 29, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of his 43-year-old father, Bernard Coleman Jr. on the 4000 block of Cole Boulevard, SE, on March 18, 2017. Coleman was initially charged with first-degree murder while armed, first-degree burglary, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, unlawful possession of a firearm, and robbery while armed. Coleman also pleaded guilty to prison breach, kidnapping while armed, and assault with a dangerous weapon for an incident that took place in October 2020. 

D.C. Superior Court Judge Craig Iscoe sentenced Coleman, who was represented by defense attorney Dominique Winters, to 15 years in prison and five years of supervised release for the murder charge. The sentence runs concurrent with two other charges for robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. 

On March 17, 2017, police arrived at Coleman’s home at 4000 block of Cole Boulevard., SE, where police found his father’s lifeless body, according to court documents. On the night of the incident, March 16, Coleman fired the gun at his 43-year-old father who appeared to be asleep. The victim suffered from two gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. Coleman fled the scene after taking his father’s car keys.

“I didn’t mean to shoot [the gun] the first time, I was playing with [the gun] behind his back,” Coleman told police. 

In another hearing later that Friday, D.C. Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt ruled the defendant, who was represented by defense attorney Janai Reed, guilty on two charges in connection to a 2020 kidnapping case. 

For the first charge, prison breach, the defendant was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three months of supervised release. 

For the second charge, receiving stolen property of $1000 or more, the defendant was also sentenced to 18 months in prison and three months of supervised release. The two sentences are set to be served consecutively but will run concurrent to the murder case. 

On Oct. 4, 2020, staff at St. Elizabeth Hospital, the location where Coleman was being detained after his sentencing date was rescheduled amidst the COVID pandemic, went to check on him in his room to find the room empty, according to court documents. Surveillance footage revealed Coleman leaving the premises on Oct. 3 and could not be found on the hospital property. 

On Oct. 7, 2020, Metropolitan police officers responded to a request from US Marshals for assistance in regard to an apprehended individual on the 4600 block of Southern Avenue, SE. The individual was identified as Coleman and as a suspect in a robbery while armed, theft of an automobile, and simple assault.

Prior to being apprehended, Coleman III was observed carrying a black bag that contained a laptop and other items that belonged to the victim of the offense.   

Read more about the defendant’s court proceedings, here

Follow this case