Breaking News
More () »

Timothy Coggins family after guilty verdict in murder trail: 'We are eternally grateful'

"Thirty-five years is too long, but we are grateful to be here today," Coggins' family told a packed courtroom.
Timothy Coggins

GRIFFIN, Ga. — The family of a black man who was stabbed and dragged to death in 1983 said they finally have closure after a jury convicted the man responsible.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Spalding County jury found Frankie Gebhardt, 59, guilty on all charges for his role in what prosecutors described as a racially-motivated killing of Timothy Coggins.

"Thirty-five years is too long, but we are grateful to be here today," Coggins' family told a packed courtroom.

Decades ago, Spalding County Darrell Dix said Coggins, 23, was murdered after he socialized with a white woman. Coggins' body was found near a set of power lines in the town of Sunny Side, north of Griffin on Oct. 5, 1983. Courtroom testimony said Coggins had been beaten, stabbed and dragged behind a vehicle before being left for dead.

Timothy Coggins

The murder remained unsolved for years. But in 2017, after receiving new leads, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reopened the case, culminating in five arrests. The Spalding County Sheriff's Office charged Gebhardt and 58-year-old Bill Moore, Sr. with murder. Milner Police Officer Lamar Bunn, his mother Sandra Bunn and Spalding County Detention Officer Gregory Huffman were each charged with obstruction.

On Tuesday, a jury found Gebhardt guilty on five counts of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years to serve concurrently.

READ | Man guilty of all charges in 1983 dragging death of man who talked to a white woman

In front of the courtroom that was standing room only, family delivered a statement, thanking investigators, prosecutors and the jury for their "tireless" effort in delivering justice after all these years.

"It has been 34 years for us to be here today, and we are finally here and now we can go back to Tims' grave and to my grandmother's grave and we can say, 'Hey, you guys can now rest in peace.' So for that, Judge Sams, we are eternally grateful," Heather said.

"We understand that this has been tiresome and taxing to everyone, but we are completely grateful to be here today," Heather said. "I personally want to thank every juror for dedicating your time to look at what was covered and come up with the best solution possible."


Before You Leave, Check This Out