Kenya Johnson: Welcome back to the Crime and Law Network, I’m Kenya Johnson. You just heard a recap of the Kentucky case of the Marine murder. Such a tragic case involving someone who had pledge to serve our country and his life was ended in such a tragic way. We’re joined here in the studio by trial attorney Brad Micklin. Thank you so much for joining us again.
Brad Micklin: Thanks for having me today.
Kenya Johnson: Now there’s lots of discussion about guns and forensics, can you tell us the importance that the ballistics play in this case and how the connection was made?
Brad Micklin: Sure. Well there’s a lot of issues in this case about the forensics with the gun and who had the gun and how did it actually come into possession of the police. So, I think this case is going to be using a lot of forensics to tie it all together because we had first, the gun was in the possession of the two victims in the hotel six days earlier, then there was the robbery, and then it went into the possession of the two defendants that we have here, and then it was eventually after a crime spree turned into a third person who turned it to an undercover agent. So I think they really need to try to tie those three pieces together in order to make the forensic make sense to the jury.
Kenya Johnson: So I noticed that the defense attorneys are looking to exploit the custody, of course they’re going to argue that somehow, someway, in that chain of custody that there was, the gun had been switched out or trying to poke holes in that reliability that this is the very game gun that was taken in the motel robbery. Tell us how important is it for the state to make that connection and how much can the jury rely upon the chain of custody in this case?
Brad Micklin: Well that’s going to be a challenge on both sides of the case because forensic evidence is always important, scientific testimony is on the one hand, very helpful, but also on the other hand can be very challenging for the jury to understand. Because it’s never an exact science when you have an issue like this, it’s going to be hard for the jury to process the markings, for instance, on the casings to the testimony, and I think the defense council did a really good job of trying to show there’s some inconsistencies in this scientific analysis.
Kenya Johnson: And you’re right, scientific evidence, ballistics, can be very technical and so it is important for the state to break it down into small pieces, and then as you noticed, as you did the comparison of the lands and grooves in the striations of the bullets, you could see the connection, and so when the jury’s able to eyeball and see the connection and find out how important forensics are, how the grooves get on the shell casings, that is very moving for the jury and so I do believe that the state is doing a good job in making that connection and it’ll be ultimately up to the jury and how they process that. Tell me this, what has been the most emotional part of this trial that you can recall thus far? What do you think the jury is dealing with at this time?
Brad Micklin: I think the most emotional part of this trial has been the wife’s testimony. She was not only a victim personally by being shot, but she lost her husband who died in front of her. During her examination they played the 911 call that she made to get help, and when you listen to the tape it’s quite amazing that she is calm through most of it and then she just becomes so emotional she can’t manage it.
Kenya Johnson: Absolutely, she saw her husband die right in front of her.
Brad Micklin: Right, that was very challenging for the jury I think to hear that kind of testimony and to try to separate the emotion from what’s actually happening in the court room.
Kenya Johnson: Absolutely, well thank you for that. We’re going to go into the Gebhardt trial, this is the trial in Georgia, it’s a 34 year old cold case involving what is alleged to be a hate crime, and so let’s look at that recap, we’ll go into the court room now. Welcome back, we just heard testimony in the State versus Gebhardt trial, this is the hate crime murder that occurred in rural Georgia back in 1983. We’re joined in the studio with Brad Micklin. Brad, I was just reading that it was in 2009 that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law was signed into law by President Obama and that expanded the 1969 Hate Crimes Law and it included such things as gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability as well, so that was something good for our country and protects a lot more people. Tell me this, this happened in 1983, what are some of the differences in prosecuting and defending this case if it were to happen say, this year.
Brad Micklin: Well I think there’s a lot of problems that come up in a case like this, I mean, as you know, every defendant has a right to a speedy trial, and yet this is a case that’s been open in someway or another for over 30 years, so the prosecution’s had all the time in the world to put all their evidence together where as the defendants are only now put on trial and we’re not even sure when the investigation resurfaced, but I think these issues about the time is going to really effect how the case progresses.
Kenya Johnson: Now for those that question, this occurred in 1983 and they’re thinking, “Could there have been hate crimes as recent as that? That’s modern history.” Well, did some looking back and Georgia is the home of over 4,000 lynchings and actually they were, and we call this a lynching but it’s actually called “lynching by dragging”, this is not new, and as recent as 1998, James Byrd in Jasper, Texas was drug in this very same fashion, so dragging someone in a car for three miles or so on a rural road is something that has been seen as a hate crime for quite some time. What do you think about this type of activity happening, this isn’t the ’60s, this isn’t the ’50s or the ’30s, but in 2009, this is still happening, what are your thoughts?
Brad Micklin: I don’t think anybody would ever deny that this is a heinous, savage crime whether it happened in 1983, 2003, or yesterday. You can’t get around whether it’s racially motivated or not, it’s going to be a serious, serious act and anybody who’s punished under either the Hate Crimes or tried for murder for something so savage is going to be very significant to do.
Kenya Johnson: Do you think the jury makeup, if this case had gone to trial in the ’60s and the jury makeup of 2018, do you think that that goes more towards the prosecution being successful or the defense being successful? And why?
Brad Micklin: Well it’s hard to say at a stage like this, when you have a case that has this many issues regarding racial tensions, witness issues, forensic problems, don’t forget the whole case is coming down to reasonable doubt, and you only need to have one person that has beyond a reasonable doubt question about anyone of these issues, so whether it’s one of the jurors that’s emotionally tied to a racial incident or one that even identifies with the defendant, which is quite possible, whichever side a juror falls on could influence his or hers decisions.
Kenya Johnson: Well you have to remember that the jury’s going to be picked from this community and so whatever the community values are, be it older values or more modern progressive values, they will bring those thoughts and experiences and beliefs to the jury room as they deliberate. So now we’ll go next up to hear the testimony of Patrick Douglas. Now Patrick Douglas is going to tell us that the defendant, Mr. Coggins, sorry, that Gebhardt, actually confessed to him that he killed the victim, Tim Coggins. So we’ll hear about that and we’ll talk about it on the other side. Welcome back to the Law and Crime Network, I’m Kenya Johnson and we’re joined in the studio with Brad Micklin, a trial attorney. So Brad, we just heard testimony from Patrick Douglas, otherwise known as “Trouble”, and Trouble tells us that the defending Gebhardt actually bragged about killing the victim, can you tell me why do you think throughout the years, and from the very beginning of the trial, we’ve heard testimony that he sort of bragged about this incident or just gave little hints that he was involved with it? Why do you think he was so vocal about his participation in this murder?
Brad Micklin: Well it’s hard to say, you know, the biggest trouble will have and I always have commenting about murder trials is trying to attribute rational thought to some kind of irrational act, and don’t forget that there are a lot of issues about these statements that are being made. One of the witnesses is alleged to have some incentive because he’s incarcerated, there might be favorable sentencing that he’s receiving and some of the other witnesses are commented that the statements may not have actually identified as him killing the victim, he used a racial slur, so I’m not sure if it’s even being tied properly to the victim in this case.
Kenya Johnson: Well we’ve had…I’ve heard some testimony about where he has actually specifically said that he rescued, in this clip we heard he rescued Debbie, he felt some sort of responsibility for this woman, so we have the motive there that they are establishing that motive, but tell me why you think that he…i wonder if he really thought that this day would ever come, that he was amongst friends in this community that he thought that people wouldn’t put these little comments together and that’s what this trial is all about, putting all the comments together, all the evidence together to eventually link it to him. I noticed as they go over the testimony with Patrick Douglas, they mentioned that his nickname is “Trouble” and that he has some tattoos and that he’s had some past convictions, why is that important for the jury to hear about his past criminal history?
Brad Micklin: Well it may and may not be important for the jury to hear and in a lot of cases often people feel that it’s improper for a jury to hear about prior bad acts, so fortunately we have a lot of rules and standards about what can and can’t be admitted so that in one case if it’s being used to suggest that a person would’ve acted consistent with a prior bad act, we may not use it, but if it’s being used for motive or biased then maybe it’s appropriate, so it really depends on the circumstance and why it’s being offered.
Kenya Johnson: It’s definitely going to take a skillful defense attorney to make the difference and still get in that information to let the jury know that the defendant does have some sort of history. I will tell you this, as a prosecutor, we take our victims as we get them, and we take our witness, and even every witness to a crime does not have a stellar history and even though they may have some past convictions that doesn’t take away the fact that they may be a witness to a crime, and so we just have to balance that with what they can offer the case versus with the way that they’ve lived their life and try to make that difference. What are you seeing out of this witness here with Patrick?
Brad Micklin: Well its hard to say again, this case is sort of in it’s early stages and as we’re getting more identification issues and more evidence issues about the knife that’s been found and then you converse it to all the missing evidence and the DNA questions, it’s hard to see where it’s all going to be tied together, I think it’s going to be a very confusing puzzle for the jury.
Kenya Johnson: Absolutely, definitely more to come. All right, next we’re going to listen to the top ten stories around the country, definitely some things that will make you go, “hm”. Stay tuned, we’ll be back with more. Welcome back to the Law and Crime Network, where we are covering the State versus Gebhardt trial, the Kentucky, excuse me, the Georgia Hate Crime trial involving Timothy Coggins who was stabbed and dragged in the back of a vehicle, this case is over 30 years old, it’s a cold case and we are hearing testimony from that era, 1983. In studio I have Brad Micklin with me, I apologize for that.
Brad Micklin: Micklin, that’s okay, everybody does it.
Kenya Johnson: Micklin. Brad Micklin, a trial attorney. So Brad, we just heard from William Sanders, and Sanders tells us that he was friends with the defendant and that the defendant admitted, said, that the body you found, we put him there. First of all, I commend Sanders for even telling this, he says that they’re still friends, they were friends throughout this, but he never had any followup questions, he just received the information and then they just went on about their lives. What do you take of this, a friend and the information that he had?
Brad Micklin: Well it’s a pretty incredible testimony. I didn’t realize that it was going to be so damaging, when you listen to the opening statements, both the prosecutor and the defendants, they didn’t suggest that there was going to be such a direct tie in this witness to the victim, so it’s pretty shocking that he’s sitting on the stands saying that he said he did it, so I’m really interested to see what the defense cross examination’s going to be.
Kenya Johnson: What comes to my attention is how is it that investigators missed speaking with him? Now this is the witness that found the body and they didn’t followup with him afterwards? So what we’re hearing that a couple days later the defendant admitted to his friend, Sanders, that he put the body there, so there was no followup perhaps a week or two weeks later with this particular witness, and so the witness tells us that he knew someone-
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Kenya Johnson: … this particular witness, and so the witness tells us that he knew someone, a narcotics agent. Three days later after this confession he told this narcotics agent, and nothing was ever done. What does that speak to you about the culture in this town, and how they handled and felt about this crime?
Brad Micklin: Well, we’re not sure that nothing was done, yet there’s been allegations of a coverup both in 1983 and even in the current investigation. It’s shocking that they would have this kind of testimony and not cover it up, regardless of the racial climate, both then or now. So, it’s going to be interesting. Like I said, I want to see what the defense has to say about this witness.
Kenya Johnson: How do you think the jury is going to weight his testimony? This is a lifelong friend. They are still friends. Do you think that they will find that believable, or will they look at him in a weird way because he now is telling on his friend, and maybe he has some other motives.
Brad Micklin: Well, it’s certainly strange that he’s sitting there saying, “I still am friends with this man.” If a friend of mine tells me that he kills somebody, it’d be pretty much the end of my friendship with him.
Kenya Johnson: And you’d have a few questions, wouldn’t you?
Brad Micklin: But it makes his testimony credible, you know? There’s very little reason for the jury to suspect that he has any motive or incentive to be there. He’s testifying against a friend of his.
Kenya Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. This just, to me, shows what, how this community felt about this crime. I would like to think that something was done, but here it is, some 34 years later, and we’re just now hearing about this. The witness says that he just spoke with law enforcement eight months ago about this case. I’m sure once they got that testimony, they were all steam ahead on bringing this cold case to actual fruition in a trial.
Brad Micklin: Yeah. I think there’s actually some talk that there’s other parties that are going to be charged with obstruction issues and charges too that I don’t think they’ve done yet, because I don’t think they want to cloud the media or the coverage of this case.
Kenya Johnson: Absolutely. Next up, we’re going to go the courtroom and listen to the testimony, more testimony, of William Sanders, as he’s crossed by the defense attorneys. Let’s go to courtroom now.
Welcome back to the Law & Crime Network. You are watching testimony in the Georgia hate case. It’s a cold case from 34 years ago, where Timothy Coggins was drug and stabbed, and this case has gone dormant for years. We’ve just heard testimony. We’re joined by Brad Micklin.
Brad, that was a bomb that just went off in the courtroom, and I’ve viewed this testimony as some of the most important testimony we’ve heard thus far. We’ve got the good, good friend of the defendant, who tells us that the defendant told him that he participated in the crime. Gave details, chains, he was stabbed, identified the location, gave all this information. He’s just now spoken to law enforcement officially as part of this investigation about eight months ago. What does it matter that it was over a drug deal, or over a courtship, or a connection? What do you think that Sanders has been living with all these years?
Brad Micklin: Again, it’s hard to say what goes in the minds of the people that are involved in these kinds of either heinous acts or even the coverup from it. You said yourself, “He testified that he’s still friends with Gebhardt,” or at least, I guess, as of eight months ago, he was.
Kenya Johnson: They’re probably not friends anymore. What do you think?
Brad Micklin: No, I would hope not. But it was really surprising how limited the cross-examination was. The defense attorney’s job in cross-examination is to create reasonable doubt, and here you have something that may almost seal his fate. And we had very little talk about what was relevant, you know, talk about the reason for it. It doesn’t matter why he killed him. I mean, maybe it would negate from malice to involuntary, but murder’s going to be murder, so to put such a small cross-examination is shocking.
I’m just assuming that the defense counsel is really going to play into the larger issues later, like the missing evidence and the DNA problems, and that they didn’t want to make too much of a spectacle out of this witness.
Kenya Johnson: But, Brad, you made a great point, because this is the chance for the defense attorney to rip this witness apart as much as they can, I mean, bring up everything from a bounced check to whether his eyesight is good or not. I mean, they could have gone after him in so many ways to attempt to color his testimony, but they did not. So, we’ll see how the jury takes a look at that and how they viewed that.
Looking at … Also in his testimony, he talks about this drug deal. Do you think that the drug deal … that he would have been more apt to reveal this had he felt that it wasn’t? I mean, do you think that the drug deal and the courtship just has any relation to his actions, and how he viewed this crime?
Brad Micklin: Well, I can’t be certain. It’s possible, because again, the defense counsel’s job is to create reasonable doubt, and any defense counsel is going to be as noticeable as they can. I always say cross-examination is more about the lawyer than it is about the witness. So, we don’t really know what he’s going to do with it, probably until we get either other witnesses or a closing argument from him. I can’t really be sure if he’s trying to either hurt the credibility by suggesting the witness may be involved in drugs, or if he was just trying to make some kind of question just to raise a reasonable doubt on any grounds.
Kenya Johnson: Cross-examination is more about the lawyer than the witness. I like that you said that, and that was certainly a favorite part of a trial that attorneys look forward to, because that’s their chance to just get out everything. Even though it’s a cross-examination, you can ask leading questions, and you can sort of plant things in the eyes of the jury. The witness can say, “Yes,” or, “No,” but it gives you an opportunity to control the narrative as the defense attorney, or whomever’s on cross, the prosecution or defense attorney.
Lots to get from this witness, and this is certainly an interesting and very emotional trial, and it’s just as interesting as if it had been tried contemporaneously in 1983 when it first happened. Very engaging. And so, we’re going to go to break for just a little bit, and we’ll be back with more coverage of the State versus Gebhard. There’s more to come on the Law & Crime Network.
Welcome back. You just saw a clip of the Marine murder trial out of Kentucky. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Monday. So after several days of testimony and lots of forensic, heavy ballistics type of evidence, we’re finally going to … the jury will finally get a chance to make their decision.
Joined in studio by Brad Micklin, trial attorney. Brad, this case has gone on for a while. It lies very heavily on the investigation and matching up a lot of the facts and circumstances and evidence. Tell me, this case is a death penalty case. These two defendants are on trial for their lives. What do you think is the reason why this is a death penalty case versus a run-of-the-mill murder case, if you will?
Brad Micklin: Well, it’s hard to just comment as to why they sought the death penalty. First, I don’t really know what the jurisdiction says. As you know, many states will have different reasons for charging and for sentencing.
But I think the aggravating factors that may have led them to choose to go for the death penalty are all the crimes that surrounded the incident. There was the hotel robbery. Then there was the shooting. Megan Price was injured also. Then we have the crime spree that followed. I think in order to sort of dissuade this type of conduct, I think they try to aggravate the charge, and therefore aggravate the sentencing.
Kenya Johnson: And it also matters who was killed as well. Sometimes, the death penalty, in very egregious cases involving children or the elderly, and in this case, we have a Marine, someone who was sworn to protect our country, who has dedicated his life to protecting us. For him to fall down for such a senseless act, a robbery at the brutal hands of two armed robbers, that certainly is shocking to the senses, and worthy of additional scrutiny as it relates to the prosecution.
Brad Micklin: Yeah. I’m not sure if that led to seeking the death penalty or not. I know a lot of jurisdictions will have the ability to elevate an offense for certain individuals, like crimes by schools, or if you assault a police officer, it goes from simple assault to aggravated assault. But I’m not really sure if his being a Marine impacted the sentencing, or the charges that fell into this case.
Kenya Johnson: Well, it certainly plays into the emotional aspects of the trial, which the jury is not to consider. However, it’s hard to get away from that, and we can both agree that it’s certainly very touching in this case.
Well, we’re going to switch for a moment to the Gebhard trial. That’s the trial out of Georgia, the 34-year-old lynching by dragging case that investigators have put together within the last year based on intense … They put out feelers to see if people had any additional information, and as time goes on, cases get solved. Time seems to solve many cases, and so we’re going to go into the courtroom and hear a clip of Terry Reed. Now, Terry Reed is part of this case, and we’ll listen to his testimony and cross-examination.
On Law & Crime Network, we’re covering the Gebhard trial. That’s the cold case trail out of Georgia, where a man was stabbed and drug at the back of a car on a rural road some 34 years ago. We just heard testimony from Terry Reed. Terry Reed was in custody with the defendant, and made some confessions, basically said that where the evidence was, and that he used to burn it and throw it in a well. This is what prompted this jailhouse, this inmate, to contact his sisters and have them contact the GBI.
We’re in the studio with Brad Micklin. Tell me, sir, why do you think that this defendant, or excuse me, this witness, is coming forward with this information? How does the jury view these sort of jailhouse confessions?
Brad Micklin: I think it’s an interesting testimony, because I think a jury will often look to a jailhouse informant, or testimony, like you referenced, that they’re getting something for testifying: a reduced sentence, favorable testimony at a parole hearing. But the witness testified, when the prosecutor asked, “What are you getting for this?” he said, “Nothing.”
Then the defense tried to cross-examine, and I was waiting for him to go somewhere with it, because first year lawyers are taught, you never ask a question you don’t know the answer to. He gets up and says, “You’re not getting anything?” Witness said, “No.” He goes, “You’re not getting anything?” “No.” He must have asked him four times. I think he hammered home the point that the witness isn’t getting anything. I think it actually made the witness more credible.
Kenya Johnson: I agree, and the witness even said, “I’m not asking for anything.” He said that right is right, and wrong is wrong-
Brad Micklin: Right. You’re right. [crosstalk 00:23:44] going to serve my time.
Kenya Johnson: … and that I’m going to man up for mine. So, what do you think that this witness could have thought, or was thinking, when he heard this from this defendant in custody?
Brad Micklin: I’m not sure, you know? It was supposed to be that they were just communicating back and forth. It wasn’t really much talk before this witness took the stand, and the media and the coverage of this case about what the motive or incentive was. It was simply one of the many different people who are going to identify that the defendant did, in fact, say that he committed this crime.
Kenya Johnson: Brad, I’ve seen this before where defendants, as time has gone by, they feel like they’ve gotten away with the crime, and so they then began speaking about it, making comments. And then I’ve seen the other side, where the time, the guilty conscience, is weighing on them, and so they want to tell people, almost subconsciously wanting to get caught or just to be able to release some of that burden and put it on someone else. Because essentially, by giving that information out, he’s transferred the burden now to the witness from the cross, Terry Reed, who now has the responsibility to report it to the GBI. And we saw his efforts, in which he did, and he got problems. He couldn’t just give that information. They wouldn’t even accept it, so that was very interesting in how he wanted to get it off his chest as well.
Let’s pick up now as we go back to more of the cross of Terry Reed, and hear about what he heard in jail a few months ago.
Speaker 1: The type of-
Kenya Johnson: You’re just hearing testimony in the State versus Gebhard case. This is the cold case murder of Tim Coggins in Georgia in 1983.
We’re here in studio again with Brad Micklin. Brad, we’ve just heard some very testy testimony. What do you think was going on there between the defense attorney and the witness?
Brad Micklin: It’s always challenging to be on the stand, and being sort of attacked by a defense attorney. We heard the witness say, “You put words into my mouth.” So, I think it was getting a little heated, and I think that the defense attorney’s trying to do that. I think he was trying to sort of muster up some kind of anger, suggest that there was some other reason, like this work detail, that maybe he’s here testifying for.
Kenya Johnson: Well, so now we heard from Mr. Reed, and he says that after he …
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Kenya Johnson: We heard from Mr Reed and he says that after he heard the statements from the defendant admitting to the crime, and he started to tell others, inmates were talking about the crime, officers were talking about the crime and that all of a sudden he was removed from trustee duty. Trustee duty is a very coveted position, a position of trust and privilege in the jail, where you get special privileges, what do you think that was about, and where is the prosecution going with the build up into what happened once he found out about this confession?
Brad Micklin: Its difficult to say exactly where the prosecution’s going but I think they have a lot of issues that they’re trying to diffuse, and going back to the beginning of their trial, to the opening arguments through up to this witness and we had the issues that the prosecution’s dealing with, like all the lost evidence, the DNA that is not only missing, but what did exist, they’re claiming should have been tested and wasn’t. So I think the prosecution’s attempting to diffuse all these issues by bringing witnesses like this one forward.
Kenya Johnson: Now this witness, a former inmate, obviously convicted of a crime, has some criminal history, he is telling us that he is honorable, that he did his time, and he did the crime, but he’s also clearing up the defense attorney, “you won’t put words into my mouth.” How do you think the jury can weigh his testimony just based off his personality and the fact that he stands on the side that he wants only the truth to come out.
Brad Micklin: I think the jurors are going to be impacted differently, they’re all obviously very different people and that’s what the purpose of the make-up is going to be, so I think, how he acted, his body language, his consistency, his obvious belief in what he’s saying and his conviction’s going to be very important but it’s going to impact everybody differently.
Kenya Johnson: And his demeanor, very calm, very matter of factly, he’s been consistent in his testimony, how do you take that?
Brad Micklin: Well it’s always important to be consistent. It’s not surprising that he would be uncomfortable, this is a high profile case, I’m sure he’s been through a lot getting to today, with investigations and reporters, and being in the newspaper and having your friends and family see you, so he’s bringing all that into his testimony. And I think that’s what the defense attorney’s actually bringing out.
Kenya Johnson: All right, well we are watching gavel to gavel coverage in this very interesting cold case. Things are heating up, we’ve heard some explosive testimony, we’ve heard confessions from the defendant and this is certainly a very interesting case, and we’ll see how the hate allegations will certainly play out before the jury, but now we’ll go to a break. More to come on the Law and Crime Network, stay tuned.
All right, you just heard the opening statements from the prosecution in The State versus Gebhardt, this is the Georgia cold case murder of Timothy Coggins where he was stabbed and drug behind a truck in a rural area, and it’s alleged to be a hate crime because he was believed to have been socializing with a young Caucasian female. And so, as a 20 year prosecutor, I just want to take a moment and say that I am very impressed with the prosecution, she is very professional, passionate, and she immediately gives the shortcomings of the case, the due to time, much of the evidence has been gone, and so I wanna give kudos to this prosecutor, truly impressive and powerful. Here in the studio, we have Brad Micklin, master trial attorney, and we’ve heard the prosecutor talk about the rage and we’ve also heard her talk about the friends; the friends of the defendant.
Now this case was really made by the friends. We’ve heard multiple testimonies where at some point the defendant gave little tidbits, “We put him there, we stabbed him.” Said things, “They’ll never find the evidence, they’ll never do that again.” Things of that nature. Do you think that this case could be as strong if it weren’t for those friends and are they good friends?
Brad Micklin: Well, I don’t imagine that they’re good friends, I can’t imagine it to be friends any longer, but to your question, I think that the prosecution’s case needs these witnesses. I think that a lot of what we see in the opening statement is really the prosecution’s attempt to pull the attention away from the bigger problems they face and that’s gonna be the loss of all the evidence. There’s talk that there is tire tracks that were lost, there was hair follicles that disappeared, there was a bottle of Jack Daniel’s that may have had DNA on it. These have all vanished. So I think what the prosecution’s trying to do is take your attention away from these things, and say look, we have three people there, mostly his friends, and we have the jailhouse witness who’s not getting anything for his testimony, and they’re all pointing the defendant as the one who committed this crime. I think that’s what they’re looking to accomplish with it.
Kenya Johnson: And I think the weight of it, them being friends and being in a position towards the defendant to confess the these things, and also the relationship again and the timeliness of it all, I just think this is very crucial testimony for the prosecution and I think it makes the case when you add up all the little comments together, them being so familiar with the defendant, that eventually they will give much consideration to the testimony that we’ve just heard.
So we’ve got more testimony to hear. Now we’re gonna tune into Robert Smith, this is a friend of the defendant, and a friend of the defendant who has yet to be tried. Let’s go to the courtroom and hear what he has to say.
All right we just heard testimony from Robert Smith, yet another friend of defendant Gebhardt in the Georgia hate crime case, from 1984. Joining me is trial attorney, Micklin, I do apologize.
Brad Micklin: Okay.
Kenya Johnson: And so tell me this, rage. We hear that word in the opening from the prosecution and then we hear Robert Smith say ” We deal with that.” Meaning interracial communications. What do you think that means to you? What does that mean to you?
Brad Micklin: It’s hard to say again. Race is obviously a huge issue in this case and these witnesses are all testifying that that was what motivated the defendant to commit this heinous crime. So I think the prosecution is bringing these witness to simply tie the rage issue and the race issue together and say that this is what motivated it and we should sentence him as we are trying to.
Kenya Johnson: Absolutely and from this testimony you can hear Mr Smith, sort of build into that rage.We are getting finally the justifications, the inner workings of the defendant’s mind, how he felt about this particular situation, so it’s certainly hard for him to overcome and for his defense to overcome that this was not racially motivated, if he’s out here telling his good friends things like this.
And I thought it was pretty interesting, he says they had been drinking and which they did a lot of, that’s a common thing with the witnesses that we’re hearing, and when he starts drinking, he starts talking about these concepts of what we do, we don’t deal with that here, this is what happened, and they would hear about it years later, when he’s sober in jail, he’s still talking about these concepts, so he’s consistently admitting to this behavior to many different people, different classes of friends, throughout a lot of time. And so the jury’s seeing many different ways.
What did you think about Robert Smith’s testimony? What stood out to you most from what he’s told the jury?
Brad Micklin: Well again I think it’s the fact that you have multiple witnesses that all claim to be his friends. These are all very credible witnesses and credible testimony; it’s not like they have any kind of bias or motive; they’re not receiving anything from the prosecution, at least that we know of, for their testimony. So they’re really sealing his fate because they’re credible and they’re consistent.
Kenya Johnson: Well I love it that he was just sharing all of this with his friends, and now we’re gonna go in the courtroom and listen to testimony from yet another person who knew the defendant, Christopher Vaughan. So we’ll listen to that testimony and we’ll be back to talk about it. More on Law and Crime Network.
We’re back, talking about the Georgia Cold case murder trial, State versus Gebhardt hate crime, another bomb has exploded in the courtroom, we’ve heard the N bomb. The prosecution has alleged that this is a racially motivated murder and it is because the victim was purportedly sleeping with a Caucasian woman and that was unacceptable at the time to this defendant according to the testimony of the witnesses. Now the prosecution has alleged that there was rage and now we hear the use of derogatory racial terms. We hear the defendant saying he believed they were sleeping together, we’ve got the intent, we’ve got the motive, Brad, tell me what this testimony means from Robert Smith.
Brad Micklin: Well obviously the testimony is going to bring the racial issue even to the forefront once again, but more importantly, this is the second witness that has now talked about the well and the murder weapon which I understand was recovered, I understand from the prior testimony that they recovered a knife from the well. Now I don’t know if there’s any DNA evidence on it or not, so I think once we find that [inaudible 00:35:23] out, it’s gonna put the testimony of these last two eye-witnesses or at least the last two that testified, that he admitted to the crime and that he threw the knife into the well, it’s gonna tie it all together nicely for the jury.
Kenya Johnson: Well Brad, we’re gonna go to break for the moment and we will come back and listen to more testimony and let’s see how the prosecution can put all this evidence and testimony together. This is interesting. Stay tuned, stay with us, there’ more to come on Law and Crime.
You’ve just saw a recap in the Marine murder trial outside of Kentucky where all the testimony has concluded, and Law and Crime Network will pick up with the closing statements on Monday in the Courtroom. Here in the studio is trial attorney Brad Micklin.
Brad, tell us since the testimony has ended, the defense attorney’s offered some motions or some requests of the judge. Can you tell us about that?
Brad Micklin: Yeah. It got very emotional at the end. The defense attorney’s [inaudible 00:36:18] motion for a mistrial and a directed verdict, which as you know, either one would have stopped the trial right in it’s tracks. Given the amount of upset that resulted from the delay that it took for the four years for this case to come to trial, I think if the judge had granted those motions, there would have been outrage.
Kenya Johnson: Do you know what the grounds for the mistrial was? Was it based on delay?
Brad Micklin: No, the grounds for the mistrial motion, I believe was that they thought there was prejudicial testimony from the victim’s mother, a letter that she read on the stand which would have prejudiced the jury.
Kenya Johnson: So after all the testimony had been heard, is this a common motion to ask that the case be dismissed because the burden wasn’t met or some sort of impropriety in the trial, is this something that defense attorneys often do?
Brad Micklin: I think it’s common in a lot of cases. On the one hand there’s little risk to doing it, if you’re unsuccessful there’s no loss to it. The only risk I think you take as a defense attorney is that the jury may wonder why you lost that motion and that’s like the last thing they’re gonna take into the jury room with them.
Kenya Johnson: Is that in the presence of the jury, do they ask those motions?
Brad Micklin: Usually not. I’m not sure in this case if they did or not, so it would have to see how the actual motions were made, but I don’t know what they did in this case.
Kenya Johnson: Well Brad, thanks so much for joining us today, you’ve given some expert testimony to us and some definitely important insight as we tackle the two cases that are going on now.
And so it’s been a great time here hosting at the Law and Crime Network. We’ll be picking back up on these two very interesting trials on Monday, we need for you to tune back in so you can see the conclusion and we thank you for joining us, and until we come back, stay safe.
Thanks again, I’m Kenya Johnson.
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