The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News are bringing you gavel-to-gavel coverage of the cold case trial, Watch here:
Jurors in the truck-dragging, cold case murder trial of Franklin Gebhardt have every reason to be confused.
The testimony was straightforward in the beginning, as Larry Peterson, a former GBI crime scene analyst, told jurors there were three or four areas of struggle between the victim and his attackers, each marked by Timothy Coggins’ blood.
So far today they’ve witnessed:
- The state discredit DNA evidence that would seem to link Gebhardt and his brother-in-law William Moore, who is scheduled to be tried for murder in October, to the 1983 killing of Timothy Coggins.
- The defense eager to discuss a knife dredged from Gebhardt’s well by investigators
- A GBI forensic biologist testifying that DNA taken from Gebhardt did not match DNA from blood samples recovered from the victim.
- A member of Aryan Nation, currently in prison, effectively snitching on a white man (Gebhardt) for killing a black man and;
- A friend of Gebhardt, Willard Sanders, testifying that Gebhardt told him he had killed Coggins and that the murder was over a “drug deal gone wrong.” The defense suggested Sanders changed his story on the motive after an interview with GBI special agent Jared Coleman, who insists Coggins was killed because he socialized with white women.
Is the state setting up the defense? Did Gebhardt attempt to set up prosecutors, allegedly telling a white supremacist while both were incarcerated last year at the Spalding County Jail that he fed contradictory stories about Coggins’ murder to his two cell mates, knowing they would try to parlay what he told them into a reduction of their sentences?
Answers still to come. Or not, as this trial speeds towards rapid conclusion. The state said it will rest by Friday afternoon at the latest.
Catch up on the first day of testimony here: