Final suspect pleads guilty in 1983 cold case Georgia killing

William Moore was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for the 1983 racially-motivated death of Timothy Coggins in Spalding Country, Ga. Photo courtesy Spalding County Sheriff's Office

Aug. 17 (UPI) — The second suspect involved in a racially-motivated 1983 murder in Georgia has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

William Moore, described in court by his own attorney as a racist, pleaded guilty Thursday in the death of Timothy Coggins.

Moore and co-defendant Frank Gebhardt stabbed Coggins, then 23, at least 30 times before dragging his body behind a pickup truck and leaving it in a field in Spalding County, Ga.

Six weeks ago Gebhardt, Moore’s 60-year-old brother-in-law, was sentenced to life in prison for the crime after he was convicted by a jury.

Moore was sentence was 20 years in jail, followed by 10 years of probation and banishment. The final penalty is encoded in Georgia law as a means of forcing the inmate to leave the state after his other sentences have been completed.

“Today marks the end of a long and arduous journey for the family of Timothy Coggins,” Coker said after Moore’s sentencing. “My heartfelt thanks goes out to law enforcement for their work on the case. May Timothy rest in peace, and may his family begin to heal.”

Three other people were charged with obstruction, but Sheriff Darrel Dix said they pertained to suspects’ conduct after the case was reopened in 2016.

The case of Coggins’ death was closed after two weeks in 1983.

“At one point they [police] were pulled off to investigate a mailbox that had been destroyed,” Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Benjamin Coker said during his closing argument at Gebhardt’s trial. “Timothy Coggins was just another dead black man.”

The case was reopened after Spalding County deputies and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation received a tip in the case. Gebhardt and Moore were arrested and charged with murder in October 2017.


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