Crime And Law

Quality of evidence led to reduced charges in 2021 killing, Clark County prosecutors say

SPRINGFIELD — UPDATE @ 6:10 p.m.: The case accusing Noel Coles Jr. of murder and aggravated murder in the August 2021 killing of his estranged girlfriend rested largely on circumstantial evidence and that led to Thursday’s plea agreement to reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary, Clark County prosecutors told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell.

Coles, 48, avoided saying anything to Jacqueline Coles’ family when Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter gave him the opportunity. Members of her family said his decision to remain mute was no surprise to them.

“Noel is a liar, murderer and a coward,” said Belinda Hall-Morris, Jacqui Coles’ sister.

Hall-Morris, wearing a sweater bearing a picture of her sister, told the court that Coles Jr. made Jacqueline’s life miserable, broke into her home and killed her -- all the while ignoring a protection order.

“It was obvious she had been surprised and fought for her life,” Hall-Morris said of her sister.

The homicide of Jacqueline Coles, 43, in her Park Layne home shocked the New Carlisle community. Hall-Morris said it tore her family apart, that their father died nine months after the killing.

“I blame the defendant for sending my father to an early grave,” Hall-Morris said. “He didn’t just kill my sister. He destroyed her kids lives.”

Jacqueline Coles was the mother of two sons.

The plea agreement to the reduced charges meant that the judge could sentence Coles only to a maximum of 15 to 20 1/2 years in prison.

Jacqueline Coles’ family expressed disappointment at that, but said they are glad Noel Coles Jr. is headed to prison.

Prosecutors told News Center 7′s Campbell they felt the outcome of the case was good because it rested mostly on circumstantial evidence.

“In this case, we’re pleased that Mr. Coles has a conviction and will remain behind bars,” county Assistant Prosecutor Erica Lunderman said.

Jacqueline Coles’ family told News Center 7 they have seen no sign of remorse in the almost 18 months since she died.

Noel Coles Jr. will be credited for the time he has spent in jail, 521 days, as part of his sentence. That means he could be considered for release in about 13 1/2 years.


Noel Coles Jr., accused of killing his estranged girlfriend in her Park Layne home in 2021, changed his plea to guilty of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary Thursday afternoon in Clark County Common Pleas Court.

The change of plea, which occurred during a hearing, resulted in the prosecutor’s office asking that all other charges against Coles be dropped, according to News Center’s Mike Campbell.

Coles had been formally charged with murder and aggravated murder in the death of Jacqueline Coles, 43. Her body was found in her home on Weinland Street in August 2021.

>> RELATED: Hearing in Park Layne, Clark County murder case postponed

An autopsy showed that she was shot at least six times.

Noel Coles Jr. was arrested in Indiana hours after the woman’s body was found. He was returned to Clark County initially on a charge of violating a protection order.

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