Corey Coggins convicted of killing Daniel "Mack" Smith

By: Associated Press/Stephanie Baker
By: Associated Press/Stephanie Baker

EVANS, Ga. (AP) -- A Columbia County jury found a 24-year-old man guilty of murder today in the 2001 stabbing death of the husband of Ashley Smith, the woman who was credited with helping to capture Atlanta's courthouse shooting suspect last year.

Corey Blaine Coggins was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Mack Smith was stabbed in the heart during a brawl in August 2001 at an apartment in Martinez, an Augusta suburb.

Smith's widow never had to take the stand in the trial and was in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.

Ashley Smith was living in suburban Atlanta in March 2005 when she said courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols forced his way into her apartment after the shooting rampage that began at the Fulton County Courthouse.

Nichols let her go, then peacefully surrendered to authorities.

Authorities credited Smith's calm dealings with her captor in causing his surrender.

The attention she received last year for her role in Nichols' capture renewed interest in her husband's killing, and the case was reopened last March.

Coggins was one of two people charged in the stabbing.

Charges of felony and malice murder against 23-year-old Barry Keith Tabor Junior were dropped yesterday for lack of evidence.

(WRDW-TV, Stephanie Baker)

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