Woman gets probation on weapons charge; dispute ended with husband's death

Bethany Coyle (Submitted Photo)
Posted: Dec. 19, 2012 1:56 pm Updated: Jan. 16, 2013 2:15 pm

Herald-Whig Senior Writer

Bethany Coyle received probation Wednesday on a felony firearms charge involving a domestic dispute which investigators said ended when her husband took his own life.

"I'm sorry for what I did," she said. "I'm not a bad person ... I want to be there for my son."

Coyle, 28, of Quincy, had pleaded guilty last month to a Class 4 felony charge of reckless discharge of a firearms. Under a plea agreement, she was to get probation in return for the guilty plea. If she had fought the charge and been found guilty, Coyle could have faced a sentence of one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and up to a $25,000 fine.

Coyle was charged May 29 involving the domestic dispute that culminated two days earlier in the death of Wallace Coyle, 37.

During a November court hearing, Adams County Assistant State's Attorney Anita Rodriguez recounted how the Coyles were drinking alcohol in their residence in the 1300 block of Spruce. The couple argued and started pushing each other. Bethany Coyle told investigators she went to the bedroom and got a .40 caliber handgun with the intent of either threatening her husband or assuring he would not get the gun first. She said she did not believe the gun was loaded.

"There was a scuffle over the gun," Rodriguez said in court.

The gun discharged and a bullet lodged in the wall near the front door, according to investigators from the Quincy Police Department. Bethany Coyle's then-4-year-old son was in that room at the time.

Bethany Coyle said she told her son to hide, Rodriguez said. When she returned to the front room, Bethany Coyle said her husband ran to the bedroom and shot himself. A police investigation found evidence that Wallace Coyle took his own life.

Bethany Coyle posted 10 percent of a $5,000 bond on the day of her arrest and has been free since that time.

Judge William Mays sentenced Coyle to 180 days in jail, but suspended the sentence as she serves 24 months of probation. He ordered her to receive family counseling with her son, including alcohol counseling. She also is not to drink alcohol or enter bars. She is to pursue a general equivalency diploma, seek employment and do nothing to jeopardize keeping a job.

Mays said it does not appear to be necessary that Coyle be sent to the Department of Corrections and urged her to take the opportunity to master the skills she will need in her life.