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Delaware Man Sentenced For 'Brutal' Revenge Murder Of Mother of Five

Shirley Coleman, a middle aged mother of five, was shot six times on a Wilmington street. Prosecutors say her murder was revenge for an unrelated murder committed by her son. 

By Jax Miller
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A Delaware man has been sentenced for murdering a woman in what officials say was a targeted “act of retaliation."

Elgin Wilson, 20, pleaded guilty on Aug. 26 to charges of second-degree murder and second-degree conspiracy for the "brutal" death of Shirley Coleman in 2018, according to the Delaware Department of Justice. On Thursday, he was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

On Oct. 25, 2018, Wilmington police responded to reports of shots fired shortly before 5:00 a.m. on Wilmington’s east side, the First State Update reported. Coleman, a mother of five, had been shot six times and was pronounced dead on the scene, just one day after her 47th birthday, according to Delaware Online.

“There isn’t anything like getting a call like that,” one of Coleman’s sons, Michael Coleman, told the outlet. “Hearing that your mom being shot down in the street like that."

The case was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the Wilmington Police Department, who quickly eyed Wilson, who then 17 years-old, as a possible suspect in the homicide.

Court records reviewed by Oxygen.com state that Wilson was arrested and charged with an unrelated drug offense five days after the murder, during which investigators seized two cell phones and collected data related to Coleman’s homicide. Surveillance footage also linked Wilson to a Buick Lucerne, which was captured near the scene of the crime and later found at Wilson’s residence.

One of several witnesses told police Wilson was “going to get revenge for his brother’s murder.”

According to Thursday’s release, Wilson targeted Coleman “as an act of retaliation” against another one of her sons, Antonio Russell.

Russell eventually pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and other firearm charges, admitting he shot Wilson's brother, Jamiere Harris, 21, to death on a Wilmington street in 2017 over a drug debt, according to WDEL news radio. Russell was sentenced to 15 years for that crime in 2019.

A grand jury indicted Wilson on April 15, 2019 for first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, three counts of a firearm by a person prohibited and criminal contempt. He was arrested the next day.

Det. Sgt. Thomas Curley of the CID said the charges were “reflective of the dedication of our detectives” following their six-month investigation.

At the time, Wilson was not named because of his age.

“This is a tragic reminder of the all-too-common vicious cycle of violence begetting violence,” said Attorney General Kathleen Jennings in a statement on Thursday. “Two lives were taken, including an innocent mother of five, to say nothing of the countless others — friends, family, neighbors — who have been traumatized by these killings.

“This violence is senseless and heartbreaking, and we will not tolerate it,” Jennings continued. “I am grateful to the prosecutors, and the Wilmington Police who worked diligently to bring this killer to justice, and am holding the victim’s family in my heart.”

CID Chief Robert J. Tracy added that he hoped the sentence would bring a measure of comfort to the Coleman family.

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