Continuance granted in murder-for-hire trial

Staff Report

A federal judge last week granted the second continuance in a month in the murder-for-hire case involving a former Mehlville Fire Protection District firefighter.

U.S. Judge Charles Shaw on March 15 granted former firefighter James Kornhardt’s motion for continuance, and ordered the trial date for Kornhardt, Karen Coleman and Steven Mueller reset for 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 7, in Courtroom 12 North at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. District Courthouse in St. Louis.

The trial was set to begin March 1 for several months, but Shaw on Feb. 19 granted a previous motion for continuance by Kornhardt, and the trial was reset for May 10.

In his order, Shaw wrote “no further continuances shall be granted in this matter.”

Kornhardt, Karen Coleman and Mueller each are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and one count of murder-for-hire in connection with the 1992 death of Karen Coleman’s husband, Danny Coleman. Kornhardt also is charged with obstruction of justice.

The federal indictment alleges the three “… did unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire and agree to commit an offense against the United States of America, that is, the crime of murder for hire in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1958, by using and causing another to use the United States mails and other facilities in interstate commerce with the intent that the murder of Danny H. Coleman be committed in violation of the laws of the state of Missouri, as a consideration for the receipt of and consideration for a promise and agreement to pay things of pecuniary value, namely money, along with other benefits.”

In 1990, Karen Coleman recruited Larry Nolan to arrange the murder of her husband so that she could collect on several insurance policies, the indictment alleges.

Nolan, who died in prison in 1997, recruited Kornhardt to commit the murder, according to the indictment.

After her husband’s death, Karen Coleman began collecting on insurance policies, including claims for loss on Danny Coleman’s truck and claims for proceeds payable upon his death.

Karen Coleman agreed to pay Kornhardt and Nolan from the proceeds of the insurance policies, the indictment alleges. Court records also allege that Kornhardt paid Mueller “in excess of $1,000 for his participation in the murder of Danny H. Coleman.”