Not guilty verdict for 2nd murder suspect in Henry bonfire shooting

Matthew Baker, 26, was acquitted of killing four people following a 2016 bonfire in Henry County.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Matthew Baker, 26, was acquitted of killing four people following a 2016 bonfire in Henry County.

A Henry County jury on Monday acquitted a man accused of killing four people following a 2016 bonfire, according to the district attorney’s office.

Matthew Baker, 26, was charged with malice murder and arrested on Oct. 27, 2016, hours after the shooting, according to police. He was one of two suspects charged with murder and faced the death penalty if convicted.

The victims ― Matthew Hicks, 18, of McDonough; Keith Gibson, 29, of Covington; Sophia Bullard, 20, of Thomaston; and Destiny Olinger, 20, of Jackson — were shot either in the head or in the back inside a home on Moccasin Gap Road, investigators previously said.

Baker was indicted on 29 other charges, including aggravated assault, burglary and criminal attempt to commit a felony, court records show.

In February 2019, Jacob Cole Kosky pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the shooting and was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus five years. He pleaded guilty to four counts of malice murder and eight counts of felony murder, in addition to multiple counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and theft by taking.

Both Kosky and Baker attended the bonfire, according to investigators. Kosky previously admitted he was the shooter.

Baker and his family have contended he was not guilty. A Facebook page titled “Justice for Matthew Baker” has 646 followers.

“On May 20th 2024, the jury found Matthew Baker Jr. NOT GUILTY on all thirty charges,” a post Monday said. “Matthew Baker Jr. is coming home!”

After Kosky’s sentencing, his public defender, Brad Gardner, said his client had completed a mental health program through the Henry court system in 2014. Twelve days before the murders, Kosky was discharged from Crescent Pines Hospital, a mental health facility in Stockbridge.

Gardner said he did not know who signed off on Kosky’s release, but he was obviously unstable. At one point, he told a doctor he was hearing voices telling him to do things.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.