Opening statements are set to begin Wednesday in the trial of two men accused in the brutal murder of a black man in rural Spalding County 35 years ago.

Frankie Gebhardt and Bill Moore, who were former law enforcement officials, are charged in the murder of Timothy Coggins in 1983. Coggins was brutally murdered and his body left abandoned in a grassy area adjacent to a high tension power line in the Sunnyside area of northern Spalding County.

More than 325 jurors were summoned but just 127 showed up on Monday. Judge W. Fletcher Sams said he was astounded by the lack of response and he sent sheriff's deputies out to find the jurors.

On Tuesday, 10 more jurors who were absent for jury service on Monday made their way to Spalding County Superior Court.

Judge W. Fletcher Sams wanted to hear from each and every one of the jurors as to why they did not show up to court on Monday.

Excuses ranged from family emergencies to misunderstanding the summons.

Spalding County Sherriff Darrell Dix said he never in his career has had to send deputies to round up jurors.

Judge Sams told jurors about the importance of jury service, saying it's one of three things citizens have to do against their will on top of serving in the military during way and paying taxes.

The judge rescheduled jury service for the jurors who skipped out, with the exceptions of two convicted felons whose rights may not have been restored.

Sheriff deputies are still working to find their other jurors who did not who up to court.

Back to the case, in March of 2017, new evidence came to light that led investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office to re-examine the case.

In October of 2017, 34 years and 4 days after Coggins’ body was discovered, a joint effort between the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office resulted in arrests of Gebhardt and Moore.

They were both charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another.

Sandra and Lamar Bunn as well as Gregory Huffman were all arrested and charged with obstruction in the case.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Recommended for you