January 2009. Chris Coleman began telling friends and associates that he was worried about the safety (1) of his family. He had been receiving death threats (2) by email, which also mentioned his wife and his sons. Coleman asked his neighbor across the street, a police officer, to set a security camera on the front of his house.
May 2009. Coleman left his home early to work out (3) at the gym. Later on, when he called his wife and got no answer, he asked his neighbor the policeman to check on her. The officer found a horrifying scene. Red graffiti —“Fuck you” and “U have paid!”— was scrawled1 on the walls and on the sheets of the beds in which Coleman’s wife and kids lay strangled to death. Although a back window was open —suggesting that someone had entered the house out of view of the camera—, the police quickly came to suspect Coleman himself, as they found out that he was having an affair (4) with a cocktail waitress.
However, his DNA2 was not found anywhere that would connect him directly to the crime. At the trial, experts showed that some of the threatening e-mails had been sent from Coleman’s computer, but they couldn’t prove it hadn’t been hacked. They could demonstrate Coleman had bought a can of red spray paint months before, but they couldn’t link him to the can used in the crime. Toward the end of the trial, prosecutors3 asked for the testimony of Dr. Robert Leonard, a forensic linguist who, relying on (5) word choice and spelling largely, suggested that the same person had written the threatening e-mails and sprayed the graffiti, and that those specimens4 were similar to Coleman’s prose style.
1. Link each of the words/expressions below with a word/expression in the column (as numbered in the text). Copy the correct pair of words on your answer sheet. [1 mark]
intimidation relationship trust exercise security
- (1) safety and … SECURITY
- (2) threat and … INTIMIDATION
- (3) work out and … EXERCISE
- (4) affair and … RELATIONSHIP
- (5) rely on and … TRUST
2.1. Choose the best option. Copy the complete correct option on your answer sheet. [0.75 marks]
- a) As he had been receiving email threats, Coleman himself put a security camera on the front of his house.
- b) Coleman’s wife and sons were found dead by a neighbor, who called a policeman to the scene.
- c) A policeman was sent by Coleman to the crime scene to find the dead bodies of his wife and sons.
- d) Coleman’s neighbor, who was a policeman, noticed someone was escaping through the back window.
2.2. Choose the best option. Copy the complete correct option on your answer sheet. [0.75 marks]
- a) The linguistic evidence seems more decisive than the computer and the red paint in the solution of this case.
- b) Coleman’s defense managed to prove that his computer had been hacked.
- c) It was proved that the red paint that Coleman bought months before was not the one used in the crime.
- d) Dr. Leonard demonstrated that the email threats and the sprayed graffiti had been written by the same person: Chris Coleman.
3. Complete the sentences using information from the text. Do not reproduce phrases from the
text literally, unless this is unavoidable. [2 marks]
- a) Email threats were …
- b) A security camera …
- c) Coleman could not be …
- d) Word choice and spelling …
4. Complete each gap with one adequate word. Do not copy the complete text on your sheet, only letters (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) followed by the word(s) that you find suitable for the gap. [1.5 marks]
Dr. Leonard noted that many of the killer’s spray-painted sentences began with “fuck,” as did the e-mails and letters. In addition, (a) BOTH the graffiti and the threatening notes relied on two obscenities, “fuck” and “bitch,” to the exclusion of all others. Dr. Leonard (b) THEN/ALSO compared the graffiti with 221 emails known to have been (c) WRITTEN/SENT by Coleman. He explained that the abbreviation “U” for “you” (d) IS/CAN BE/MAY BE/WAS often found in cell-phone text messages (e) BUT/THOUGH/ALTHOUGH rarely in e-mails. Both the killer and Coleman used “U” in e-mails. Coleman also repeatedly put the apostrophe (f) IN the wrong place —“doesnt’ ” and “cant’ ”—as did the killer.
5. Is it clear, from the information in the text, that Chris Coleman murdered his wife and sons? Justify your answer WITH INFORMATION FROM THE TEXT BUT USING YOUR OWN WORDS. (25-50 words) [2 marks]
6. Do you think there is such a thing as “the perfect crime”? Whether you say “yes” or “no”, justify your answer. Please, use your own ideas and your own words. (25-50 words) [2 marks]
[This is NOT part of the exam, but in case you want to know the end of this case… The jury found Coleman guilty and he was sentenced to three life terms in prison, one for his wife and two for each of his sons.]