As many of you know, I write a column for a paper in each county. Now that the column has run in all of the newspapers, I wanted to share this column with you, my Facebook followers. I am thankful for all of you, and I hope you enjoy this column.
A Season for Thanksgiving
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and your week is going well. I am taking a break from my series on the anatomy of a criminal case to reflect on the Holiday Season. Our Thanksgiving looked different this year than in those past. We celebrated mostly outside and wore masks. We were more cautious around our older relatives, and some of the normal faces we see were absent because of concerns about travel from faraway states.
Yet, there were those small moments where everything seemed just like it always had been. A prayer of thanks as we all stood in a circle, the laughter of the youngest ones playing outside, the smell of turkey, ham, and every casserole you could imagine. In those moments, the memories of years past and the hopes for the future converged, and I was met with the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the simple comforts of food and family. A thankfulness for something normal.
This year has been a tremendous challenge for our country and for many in our community. We have faced economic insecurity, health issues, and the real anxiety that comes with not knowing where the world will take us next. But, despite our fears and worries, we are not without blessings. The challenge is to find a moment to reflect on these blessings.
First and foremost, I am thankful for a Thanksgiving Holiday to be with family and friends. I am thankful for those in the military and law enforcement who could not be with their families because they were out protecting us. I am thankful to live in a country where we are free to worship and speak our mind as we please. I am forever thankful for my work family.
Finally, I am thankful to serve as your District Attorney. I view this job as a calling and as a gift. I answer this call every day and strive to keep you all safe in these communities that we call home.
While the world may seem vastly different and divided right now, I am thankful for the commonalities that bring each of us together. We all want health and happiness. We are striving for our children to be the best that they can be, and we are all hopeful that this Holiday season will bring some much needed joy in what has been a difficult year. As we begin this season of thanks and giving, let us remember to think of others: check on your neighbor, help out a stranger in need, call a friend, hug your family members and let them know you love them. There are so many little things we can do to make the world a brighter place. Let us do our part to spread just a little more joy this season. Until next time, take care of each other.
Marie G. Broder
Griffin Judicial Circuit
A big thank you to the Fayette County Bar Association for asking me to present at their Fall Seminar in Amicalola Falls. We had a great morning discussing the State vs. Franklin Gebhardt, a cold case that was tried in Spalding County. It was a great morning with some great lawyers, and a beautiful place to present.
Thank you to the Fayette County Republican Party for having me speak on Saturday morning about what my office is working on right now and reopening courts. Also, thank you to the Spalding County Republican Party for hosting me as a speaker last Thursday evening. It was an honor to fellowship with such incredible people that care so very deeply for their communities. I hope to be back to both groups again, soon.
Good morning! Exciting things are happening in our circuit! This morning, Governor Kemp, GBI Director Vic Reynolds, and AG Chris Carr came to Upson County to join me in announcing the indictment of 46 members and associates of the Rollin 20’s Neighborhood Bloods. These defendants were indicted last week under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO. These individuals have committed and inspired violent crimes in our communities and across the nation. We look forward as a community to the days when the scourge of gang violence have come to an end. We look forward to the day when these men and women are held accountable by an Upson County jury. It is time to make gang members think twice about preying upon the people in our Circuit. Today we say no more.
DA Broder said of the opportunity: "it was such an honor to present to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy this evening. Myself, Judge Thacker, and Solicitor Shepard discussed the court system. They were a great group with some insightful questions, and I think I made some new friends! Y’all sign up for the next Academy. It’s a great opportunity to get a true look at what your public servants are doing for you. Thank you Sheriff Dix for the invitation!"
Panelists at the “Fayette Town Hall: Community Conversation on Policing and Race” held July 31 included, from left, attorney Wayne Kendall, Fayetteville Police Chief Scott Gray, Peachtree City Police Chief Janet Moon, Sheriff Barry Babb, Tyrone Police Chief Randy Mundy, District Attorney Marie Broder and facilitator Douglass Morris II. Photo credit to Ben Nelms with the Fayette Citizen.
OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND INTO THE LIGHT
There are some stories that must be brought out of the darkness and into the light. Timothy Coggins’ murder is one of those stories. His family suffered for 34 years with silence surrounding his case. In 2017, the case was reopened, and on this past Friday night, Tim’s story was told to America.
In October of 1983, Timothy Coggins was brutally murdered. He was stabbed, beaten, dragged behind a truck, and left to die in a field beside Minter Road in the Sunnyside area of Griffin. Evidence showed that his lynching was motivated by the color of his skin, as later investigation would reveal that he was killed for associating with a white woman. After just a few weeks of investigation, law enforcement abandoned any effort to find Mr. Coggins’ killers. Meanwhile, the Coggins’ family received violent and anonymous threats.
In 2017, a GBI agent named Jared Coleman reviewed the thin file on Mr. Coggins’ murder and followed up on a lead where an inmate claimed to have knowledge about the murder. Agent Coleman met with Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix, who agreed to reopen the case. With renewed vigor and vision, the GBI, Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, and Spalding County District Attorney’s Office located more witnesses, and physical evidence in the bottom of a well This evidence tied Franklin Gebhardt and Bill Moore to the crime. Law enforcement went above and beyond to make up for the initial shameful investigation of Tim’s murder. After a hard-fought trial, a jury convicted Franklin Gebhardt of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and concealing a body. His accomplice, Bill Moore, later pled guilty to manslaughter. Any chance for direct appeal has passed.
There are cases that I will always remember. Then there is this case. This case changed me forever. I’ve never looked into the eyes of such evil in a courtroom. As I said in my opening statement, this crime scene screamed of the horrors that happened on that killing field. As now Superior Court Judge Coker said in his closing, the jury could atone for the sins of the past, they could right the wrongs. With their verdict of guilty, they did just that.
A film crew followed us throughout the trial. It was a rare opportunity to help bring Mr. Coggins’ story to life. This past Friday, a documentary about the case aired on ABC 20/20, and is now streaming on Hulu. I hope you will watch. Tim’s story deserves to live in the light, and now it does. I pray that the truly extraordinary Coggins’ family can continue to heal, and I pray that you all will be kind to each other.
Atlanta, GA - Today Governor Brian P. Kemp swore Marie Greene Broder into the office of the District Attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit. Governor Kemp announced Broder’s appointment in February. She has been serving as Acting District Attorney until today. Broder is the first female to serve as District Attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.
"I am very honored to appoint you to be the next District Attorney. I have heard great things from your local community of the work you have done. I appreciate all you have done to serve as the District Attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.” Governor Kemp said at the swearing-in ceremony.
Marie G. Broder earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and law degree from University of Georgia College of Law. She has served as an assistant district attorney and chief assistant district attorney. Broder said of today’s ceremony, “this Circuit is my home and my hometown. I an honored and humbled to serve. My heartfelt thanks to Governor Kemp for this opportunity. I will work diligently to make sure that the Griffin Judicial Circuit remains a safe and wonderful place to live.”