Ill. man gets 30-year term for killing wife

Published: 1/11/2010 1:47 PM

EDWARDSVILLE -- A southwestern Illinois man has been sentenced to three decades in prison after admitting he shot his wife to death in 2008.

Fifty-five-year-old Vernon Coates of Wood River was sentenced Monday in Madison County after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Originally charged with first-degree murder, Coates will have to serve at least half of his sentence.

Coates' trial was to have been this week in the September 2008 death of 45-year-old Audrey Coates.

Police had said Vernon Coates shot his wife accidentally with a handgun after mistaking her for an intruder. But relatives later told Alton's newspaper, The Telegraph, that Audrey Coates actually had been shot in bed, and the couple had been quarreling.

Coates got a sentence 10 years higher than the maximum because the killing was deemed brutal and heinous.