SAWYER COUNTY -- A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Mari Isham following her plea of No Contest to 2nd Degree Reckless Homicide in the death of Justin Coles, in Hayward, WI in November 2020.
DrydenWire.com previously published a post on November 9, 2020, regarding the investigation into the death of Coles. On November 5, 2020, Mari Isham called 911 reporting that her husband Justin Coles would not wake up. Law enforcement and medical emergency personnel responded to the scene. First aid was administered to Coles, however, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Initially, authorities did not suspect any illegal activity and thought the cause of death to be a possible overdose, however, because numerous bruises and other injuries were observed on Coles’ body an autopsy was requested, according to a criminal complaint filed against Mari Isham in Sawyer County Circuit Court on September 21, 2021. The manner of death was determined to be homicide due to blunt force injuries and strangulation.
Isham was interviewed by Investigators following Coles’ death and she said that she and Coles were alone at the apartment in the hours prior to her calling 911 just before 1:00a on November 5, 2020. The criminal complaint filed against her states that she told investigators that she and Coles had argued many times in the past and had also been physically assaultive to each other during arguments. She initially said that they had argued prior to the 911 call, then later said that she couldn’t remember.
Investigators asked Isham about the injuries on Coles’ body, she stated that he had scratched himself, then stated that she had scratched him with a ring that she was wearing. She also said that he had broken his nose while moving furniture days prior to his death. Investigators observed a series of bruises and injuries on Isham’s person. Isham stated that she could not recall how she got all of the injuries.
Isham told Investigators various versions of the events that occurred prior to her calling 911 including that she and Coles were in bed watching television when she noticed that he was having trouble breathing. She asked if he wanted her to call 911, he nodded, so she went to get a phone. When she returned he was on the floor. Later she said that they were arguing and she told him to go sleep on the couch and he fell when he was getting out of the bed, after which she noticed he was having trouble breathing and asked if she should call 911. Then at another point in the interviews, she stated that she had fallen asleep and when she woke up Coles was on the floor of the room and would not wake up, so she called 911.
Online circuit court records show that several search warrants were filed with the Court regarding this case including search warrants for the residence where the homicide occurred; cell phones; FitBits; and Isham’s FaceBook account. The criminal complaint includes information regarding a cell phone search warrant for Isham’s cell phone. Call logs retrieved by the search warrant reflected that between the hours of 11:00p on November 4, 2020, and 1:00a on November 5, 2020, there were numerous outgoing phone calls from Isham’s phone prior to her calling 911.
Residents of the apartment building where the homicide occurred who were interviewed by investigators stated that they heard sounds of arguing in the hours prior to the 911 call as well as sounds like furniture being moved, “hard stepping”, and loud thumps. At least one resident recalled hearing screaming in the minutes prior to the 911 call.
Mari Isham is charged with Class D Felony 2nd Degree Reckless Homicide, and according to online circuit court records, at a hearing on September 21, 2021, she entered a plea of No Contest to the charge. The Court accepted her plea and found her Guilty.
Isham is scheduled to be sentenced on the conviction in November 2021 and faces a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.