Coggins’ mutilated corpse was found along a rural road in the small Georgia community of Sunny Side, about an hour south of Atlanta.
Gebhardt showed no reaction as the decision was read. Members of Coggins’ family, who have been in the courtroom every day of the trial, sobbed. They hugged each other and prosecutor Marie Broder.
Security was heavy in the courtroom as the decision was announced.
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Gebhardt’s lawyer said the state lacked physical evidence linking him to the crime and were reliant on testimony from opportunistic witnesses — six of whom are currently incarcerated — who only came forward in hopes of reducing their sentences.
But prosecutors said many of those witnesses provided information, attributed to Gebhardt, that only the killer would know.