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More than thirty years after 23-year-old Georgia man Timothy Coggins was killed, suspect Frank Gebhardt is facing trial for allegedly murdering him. Gebhardt and his brother-in-law William Moore Sr. stand accused of killing Coggins after witnesses claim they overheard them talking about it. Moore will be tried separately. Gebhardt’s trial is expected to begin in Spalding County Wednesday morning.
There isn’t a ton of evidence linking Gebhardt and Moore to the 1983 killing, although multiple witnesses told authorities that they heard Gebhardt talking about it with racially charged language. Coggins is black.
“They were proud of what they had done,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Jared Coleman. “They felt like they were protecting the white race from black people.”
Investigators claim Gebhardt had threatened his girlfriend after Coggins’ death, telling her to be careful or she would “wind up like that (racial epithet) in the ditch.”
A separate witness account indicated that Gebhardt stated that he went after Coggins for “messing around with his old lady,” while another said it was over a gun deal.
According to Spalding Sheriff Darrell Dix, new information that “filled in the gaps,” revived the investigation in March 2017.
“It was information from someone who knows exactly what they were talking about,” Dix told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
From there, investigators spoke to between 60 and 70 witnesses before arresting the suspects. Multiple witnesses stated they saw both suspects talking to Coggins and then driving away.
Still, the lack of DNA evidence could pose a problem, as well as the failure to investigate Gebhardt’s property, where he allegedly threw the murder weapon down a well.
The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.