Judge sentences witness to jail time after finding her in contempt of cold case

- A Spalding County judge sentenced a witness to jail after discovering she was watching a live stream of a racially motivated cold case on her phone.

All witnesses are supposed to be sequestered during a trial, meaning they should not hear what other people are saying about the case until they have testified.

Judge Fletcher Sams excused the jury and summoned sequestered witness Brandy Abercrombie to his bench right after opening statements. The judge explained sequestration to Abercrombie and asked her if there was any reason he should not hold her in contempt of court.

A deputy apparently observed Ms. Abercrombie watching a live stream of the opening statements in the hallway Wednesday morning.  Abercrombie is reportedly the daughter of defendant Frankie Gebhardt's co-defendant, Bill Moore Sr.

"Ms. Abercrombie, I am going to find you are in contempt of court for violating the rule of sequestration," Judge Sams said. "Ma'am, I am going to order you in the county jail for 20 days. I will reconsider this after your testimony is complete."

Moore Sr. and Gebhardt have been charged with the 1983 murder of Timothy Coggins. Moore is being tried separately from Gebhardt in the 15-year-old case that prosecutors have said was a dragging death that was racially motivated.

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