A black man slain in Georgia in 1983 was killed because he had been “socializing with a white female,” a prosecutor said during a court hearing on Wednesday.
Two white men were charged with the murder of 23-year-old Timothy Coggins last month after authorities reopened the cold case in Spalding County. Three others, including two law enforcement officers, were charged with obstruction.
Coggins died from being dragged behind a pickup truck through the woods. His body was found near a road in the city of Sunny Side on Oct. 9, 1983.
Prosecutor Ben Coker revealed new details of the case as he asked a judge to deny bond for accused killers Frankie Gebhardt, now 59, and 58-year-old Bill Moore Sr.
“The murder of Timothy Coggins was due to Coggins socializing with a white female and that Coggins had been stabbed multiple times and drug behind a truck by Franklin Gebhardt and William Moore Sr.,” Coker said, according to WSB.
Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix said that if the murder took place today, “it would without a doubt be classified as a hate crime,” according to CNN affiliate WGCL.
Dix called the slaying “just a horrible, torturous death,” according to CNN.
Frankie Gebhardt (top l.), Lamar Bunn (top r.), William Moore, Sr. (bottom r.), Sandra Bunn (bottom c.) and Gregory Huffman were all charged in the murder.
(Spalding County Sheriff’s Office)
Defense lawyers had asked Wednesday to free Gebhardt and Moore on bond, saying they were old and weak, but the judge denied their request.
“It was very difficult hearing some of the things today, and seeing the defendants was very difficult as well,” said Coggins’ niece Heather Coggins. “It’s the first time we’ve had a chance to see them up close and personal.”
Police officer Lamar Bunn, his mother Sandra Bunn and detention officer Gregory Huffman were also charged. Huffman was recently fired from the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, according to CNN. Lamar Bunn, now a part-time officer, was suspended without pay, according to CNN.
Local and state investigators had reopened the case earlier this year after getting new information.
“The worst is over,” Heather Coggins said, according to CNN. “Although it’s been 34 years, we have always wanted justice, held out for justice and knew that one day we would have justice. … We are eternally grateful you guys didn’t give up.”
With News Wire Services