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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Atlanta murder case on "48 Hours" Saturday

There’s a rule in homicide: Most victims put themselves in the position to be killed. They’re involved with the drug trade. They cross a criminal. They’re cheating on someone or stealing from someone or stepping into a situation where they’re over their head. It’s rare that a murder involves an honest-to-god innocent victim. But that was David Coffin. His only crime was falling in love.

Coffin moved to Buckhead from Connecticut in the 1990s; he was the heir to a $19 million family trust. He was shot to death, with his own handgun, and then the killer burned down his house and destroyed all the evidence.

Scott Davis, the son of a prominent Atlanta forensic psychiatrist (who studies the criminal mind for a living and was often an expert witness for the prosecution), was originally charged with murder. The connection? Coffin was dating Davis' ex-wife.

"48 Hours," the CBS News show, will spend its entire hour Saturday at 10 p.m. on the case. The murder remained unsolved for 10 years. Davis moved to California, where he ran for governor in 2003 on the same ballot as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I wrote a feature story on the case in 1997, a year after the murder, for Atlanta Magazine. Davis remained free for another 10 years before he was put on trial and convicted in December. He is now serving life in prison.

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