Murder Trial Delayed

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

November 2, 2005
The two men arrested for killing Ashley Smith’s husband were just told their trial will be pushed back to at least January. It was supposed to start next Monday.

Mac Smith died in 2001, but police had a tough time at first because of a lack of evidence. Police say Ashley’s encounter with Brian Nichols, the suspect in March’s Atlanta courthouse shooting, may have opened this case back up.

Ashley Smith’s family has stuck by her side ever since husband Mac Smith died in 2001 during a fight in an apartment complex near Baston Road. Grandmother Ann Machovec says Ashley and her husband went to an apartment that night to dispute a rumor that he was working with police to bust drug users.

“They sat on her so she couldn’t move and turned her head in the direction of what they were doing to Mac, making her look at it,” Ann said.

“She begged him not to go, but he went anyway,” said Mary Jo Croft, Ashley’s mother.

Barry Tabor was arrested and later released because police still had too many unanswered questions.

“That started her plummet down into a dark place after Mac died,” said Kim Rogers, Ashley’s aunt.

Cory Coggins and Barry Tabor were picked up in June for murder, and are now in the Columbia County Detention Center. Captain Steve Morris says the Brian Nichols hostage situation opened this case back up.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that because of the renewed interest, we received tips and info that lead to the indictment,” Morris said.

Mac enjoyed home improvement projects, and he built the family’s back porch several years ago. This is something he left behind for them to remember him by, especially for his daughter who was only two at the time.

“She asked for a long time, where’s my daddy? And we would tell her, daddy’s gone to heaven,” Rogers said.

“She jumped in the truck, put his head in her arms, and he died in her arms,” Ann Machovec said.

Her family says, in a strange twist of fate, being held hostage has helped her push past the grief she felt after the loss of her husband.

The trial was pushed back so defense attorneys could review the file. When it does get started, it’s expected to last a week.

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