Coggins convicted of Mack Smith's murder after friend and former co-defendant took stand against him

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

A big trial wrapped up with a guilty verdict Thursday.

Corey Coggins is convicted of Mack Smith's murder after his friend and former co-defendant took the stand against him.

News 12's Stephanie Baker was in the courtroom when the verdict came down.

The jury came to a unanimous decision after just a few hours--less time than many expected, especially since Thursday's testimonies between Coggins and former defendant Barry Tabor had some conflicting information.

Same people, same night, but different stories.

Corey Coggins and Barry Tabor were both part of the fights that broke out at Applecross Apartments.

"I opened the door, and I told him, you know, 'You need to go on and leave'. Mack started yelling, yelling at Chris over me, and he grabbed the lid to a grill and swung at me, hit me with it," Tabor testified.

Tabor testified Mack Smith was mad about a rumor--that Chris Jerrard said Smith would tell police the group used illegal drugs.

"Mack had Chris Jerrard in a headlock," Coggins testified.

This is the point when the testimonies become different. Tabor remembers Coggins warning the group...someone told Smith that Jerrard called him a nark. Coggins told his friends he didn't say a word. But we heard a different story in court.

"I just told Mack that, to let him know what the word was on the street," Coggins testified.

"Chris Jerrard asked you...you lied?" asked DA Danny Craig.

" I wouldn't call it that, sir," Coggins said.

And did Coggins have a knife?

Coggins says no: his mom took it away from him before the incident.

"That was my favorite knife, I liked that knife and I was mad because my mother took it away from me," Coggins said.

Tabor's testimony backs that up. But the biggest difference in their stories includes the fight that led up to Mack Smith's death.

"He was on the ground, 2 or 3 people were standing around," Tabor testified.

"You saw someone kicking that person on the ground?" he was asked.

"I think it was Corey," said Tabor.

"The last person you saw over Mack Smith was Corey Coggins?" he was asked.

"Yes sir," said Tabor.

But Coggins says he wasn't there.

"I was going around the corner, and heard Ashley Smith scream. She was like bloodcurdling screaming, it was horrible, she screamed, it was really really loud, 'Oh God, please help me, he's bleeding, please help me, oh God, somebody help me'," Coggins testified. "So I went back around the corner because I mean, Mack was my friend."

Same people, same night, different testimonies about Mack Smith's final moments.

The state brought in investigators and witnesses throughout the week. Many of those had the same basic facts that pointed to Corey Coggins. Judge Carl Brown ordered the mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

After the jury handed down its verdict we caught up with Mack Smith's widow, Ashley Smith.

"Of course I'm happy, but that verdict doesn't bring Mack back, so...I've done a lot of growing up in the last few years. I'll not ever forget what happened, but in a way I have to forgive him so I can move on," she said.

Her husband's case gained attention again after Ashley was taken hostage by Brian Nichols following the Atlanta courthouse shootings.


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