A mistrial was declared Monday in the case of a Moore County School Board candidate accused of sharing explicit photographs of his ex-wife.
Brandon Michael Coleman, 44, is charged with misdemeanor stalking and three counts of felony disclosure of private images, with at least one of the charges stemming from a school-related incident, according to court documents. Judge Bradford Long presided over the week-long trial in Moore County Superior Court.
Coleman, who has no prior criminal history, filed on Dec. 20 to run against incumbent Stacey Caldwell for the school board’s District 1 seat. The name of his ex-wife is being withheld by The Pilot, which does not typically identify victims of certain crimes.
Writing in an email to The Pilot on Tuesday, District Attorney Maureen Krueger said the mistrial was declared because of “an evidentiary issue.” Her office plans to retry the case, she said.
Krueger did not say if the challenged evidence was presented by prosecutors or by Coleman’s privately retained defense attorney, Jonathan Silverman. Long’s written order declaring a mistrial was not immediately available at the Moore County Clerk of Court’s Office.
The decision brought an abrupt end to the trial, which Long had warned jurors could last until Thursday. It took nearly two days of interviews last week to find 12 individuals qualified to serve on the jury.
Several individuals interviewed to serve on the jury were excused after stating they were uncomfortable viewing the nude photographs of Coleman’s ex-wife. The photographs, which Assistant District Attorney Virginia Ann Sullivan likened in court to “revenge porn,” are at the heart of the criminal charges against Coleman.
According to an indictment, one of the felony charges stems from an incident on Feb. 22, 2018, in which Coleman allegedly placed an envelope containing a note and a nude picture of his former wife in the lunch box of one of the couple’s children. At the time, the two boys were 6 and 8 years of age.
Two days later, on Feb. 24, according to an arrest warrant, Coleman allegedly shared a nude photograph of his ex-wife during a youth soccer game at Aberdeen Elementary School. She later testified that the image was “contained in a sealed envelope and only viewed by herself and law enforcement officers after she unsealed the envelope.”
On Sept. 24, 2017, the Pinehurst Police Department received a report that Coleman had placed a “baggie with nude photos and a diary” on a vehicle belonging to his ex-wife’s current husband. Coleman was also accused of sending cryptic text messages to his former wife and of leaving “breast milk packages” in her driveway, the indictment said.
A document containing nearly 600 text messages between the ex-wife and Coleman was entered into evidence on Friday. Silverman had questioned the veracity of the document, which the ex-wife created using a mobile app.
Months before Coleman announced his candidacy for the Moore County Board of Education, he served a 60-day jail sentence for violating a court-ordered custody agreement. Court documents show that Coleman rejected a plea deal from prosecutors in connection with his current charges.