Jill Coit might have spent years
manipulating others, but she failed Friday to sway 12 people from
putting her behind bars for life. A Grand County District
Court jury found Coit, 51, guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy
to commit first-degree murder for the Oct. 21, 1993, slaying of
Steamboat Springs hardware store owner Gerald Boggs, her eighth
Jurors, after five hours of deliberations, also found co-defendant Michael Backus of Greeley guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy for helping kill Boggs before the start of trial in his lawsuit alleging fraud and bigamy by Coit.
found a handgun used to shoot Boggs, who also was hit with a stun gun
inside his home. Instead, prosecutors relied on other evidence,
including statements by Jill Coit's son, Seth, that she had plotted
Boggs' death for months. Seth Coit, who was given immunity from
prosecution in exchange for his testimony, testified his mother called
him the afternoon of the murder and said, ''Hey Baby, it's over and
Jill Coit, who has been married 11 times to nine men, proclaimed her innocence. In a rambling statement before the verdict, the woman dubbed the ''Black Widow'' by private investigators again claimed she hadn't received a fair trial because she knew the presiding judge.
Judge Richard Doucette, who said earlier that he'd never met Coit before the start of her six-week trial, set her sentencing for May 1 in Steamboat Springs. She faces life imprisonment. ''We won't ever have Gerry back, but we got justice,'' said Harold Boggs, the victim's father.
Backus, 49, who was Coit's boyfriend, will be sentenced May 23.
Backus' attorney, Leonard Davies, laid the groundwork throughout the trial for an appeal because he argued his client deserved a separate trial. ''She manipulated him (Backus) like she did all 10 or 11 other men,'' said Boggs' brother, Doug.
Gerald Boggs married Jill Coit in April 1991, but the marriage was annulled in December 1991 because she was still married to her seventh husband.
But by that time, Doug Boggs and his wife, Jan, already had come to fear Jill Coit. Breaking nearly two years of silence about the case, Doug Boggs said Friday that his brother pressed a civil lawsuit against Coit because he wanted to expose her history of bigamous marriages and false claims of pregnancy.
Doug Boggs said his brother was devastated when Coit falsely claimed to be pregnant and vowed to prevent her from using the ploy against someone else.
''My brother gave his life so that this would never happen to another family,'' he said. ''Jill Coit picked the wrong town, the wrong man and the wrong family. Gerry knew the only way it could be stopped was by giving his life.''
Gerald Boggs spent more than $ 100,000 preparing for his civil suit against Coit, said Doug Boggs, who attended the trial despite recent back surgery. "'She ruined Gerry, and he was never the same,'' Jan Boggs said.
The Boggs family worried about Coit after she purportedly threatened to ''get'' them during a 1992 deposition for the civil case. From the day of his brother's death until Coit's arrest in November 1993, Doug Boggs said his entire family was on edge.
''We'd never locked our house. We were never gun people,'' he said. ''We locked our house after that. We got guns. We had people stay with us . . . My parents and my family lived in fear.''
Coit's attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri, left the courtroom in Hot Sulphur Springs - where the case was moved because of pretrial publicity - without comment.
Davies argued in closing statements that 27 witnesses in the case presented testimony against Coit, but not against Backus. Backus, Davies said, ''was in a romantic relationship with a person who fooled a lot of people.''
By Kevin McCullen; Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer, March 18, 1995
Also see the A&E TV special Notorious, Serial Wife:
"The death of 52-year-old Gerald Boggs appeared to be a "normal" murder case, if there is such a thing. But as the evidence was unearthed and the suspects investigated, police and prosecutors in Steamboat Springs, Colorado realized they were dealing with an unusual killer indeed.
AMERICAN JUSTICE® reveals that Boggs' former wife, to whom he was married for just a week, quickly became the prime suspect. Jill Coit had been married ten times, sometimes committing bigamy (she was already married when she wed Boggs) and several of her former husbands had died under mysterious circumstances. SERIAL WIFE traces every step of the investigation, trial and appeal, speaking with attorneys for both sides and the reporters who covered the case to tell the definitive story of "Colorado's Black Widow."
Also see the Wiliam Coit, Jr. story
December 23, 1993: Jill Coit
is accused of murder.
April 15, 1994: Lawyers for Jill Coit try to get the trial moved.
May 26, 1994: Judge allows for change of venue
June 22, 1994: judge denies motions to hold separate trials for Jill and Michael Backus.
February 6, 1995: Jury selection begins in the trial
February 18, 1995: Jury hears a tape where Jill and her 8th husband quarreled over whether she actually had given birth to his child.
February 25, 1995: Jill's son, Seth Coit, testified against his mother. He stated that she had been making plans to kill Gerry Boggs
February 28, 1995: Seth Coit testified that hid his mom's hat in the wake of the steamboat slayings, and that he had lied in a deposition taken for a lawsuit Boggs filed against his mother.
March 1, 1995: The defense attorney's try to pursuede the jury that Seth Coit had more of a reason to kill Gerry Boggs than did Jill.
March 2, 1995: Seth testifies that he still fears his mother.
March 11, 1995: A surprise witness comes forth to say that he had seen Gerry Boggs after his supposed death.
March 14, 1995: The defense rests.
March 18, 1995: Jill Coit is found guilty
May 24, 1995: Jill Coit is sentenced to life in prison and fined one million dollars in order that she may not profit from selling her life story.
November 29, 1997: Jill Coit loses appeal.
January 9, 1998: Jill Coit loses appeal.
March 22, 1998: Jill places an ad on the internet which states: "Want U.S. Citizenship? Marry and inmate" The Department of Immigration shuts it down
December 23, 1993: Jill Coit
is accused of murder.