The Spalding County District Attorney’s Office tried the State of Georgia vs. Franklin George Gebhardt beginning last Monday. A Spalding County jury returned a verdict yesterday of guilty on Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Battery, Aggravated Assault, and Concealing the Death of Another. The Honorable W. Fletcher Sams sentenced the defendant to Life plus 30 years in prison. District Attorney Benjamin D. Coker and Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder tried the case on behalf of the State. The trial lasted seven days, over 20 witnesses testified, and over 160 pieces of evidence were presented to the jury.
The jury convicted Gebhardt of brutally stabbing and slicing Timothy Coggins over 34 years ago in a field off of Minter Road. The original investigation was closed after two months. Special Agent Jared Coleman with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Captain Mike Morris with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office opened the case in December of 2016 and conducted hundreds of interviews. These two agencies, along with the Spalding County District Attorney’s Office, and the Fire Department used a Hydrovac system to excavate a well on the defendant’s property. It was the first time in the State of Georgia that such a system was used for well excavation. In the well, a white tank top, shoes, a chain, and a knife were some of the items recovered. This evidence was presented to the jury.
District Attorney Coker said of the result, “I am beyond proud of my office and my team, particularly my Chief Assistant Marie Broder, who prepared the case for trial, for the hard work they put into this case. We have spent countless hours working with the GBI, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, and the witnesses to prepare and present this case to a jury. This was a challenging case filled with hurdles and obstacles, but we never faltered in our resolve to bring justice to Timothy Coggins and his family. We asked the jury to right the wrongs of the past with this case, and they did just that.”