Jury Recommends Death For Steven Cozzie
A family still recovering from the loss of a beloved daughter finds closure on Thursday as the Steven Cozzie murder trial reaches a close.
In a twelve to zero vote, the jury recommended to the court that Cozzie receive the death penalty for the murder of Courtney Wilkes.
When the recommendation was read, a range of emotions flooded the room – fear, relief, and anguish – yet, the face of Steven Cozzie remained unmoved.
For the Wilkes family, it's the final step in a long journey towards peace.
"Today begins our healing. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives," said mother, Toni Wilkes to News 13.
Toni and Cordy Wilkes know there will always be a physical void; nothing can replace the strawberry blonde tomboy whom Wilkes called "an old soul."
"She wasn't perfect. She was a kid, but about as perfect as they come," she said.
Thursday, was justice served in their eyes, as Courtney's killer learned his fate.
"A majority of the jury, by a vote of twelve to zero, advise and recommend to the court that it impose the death penalty upon Steven Anthony Cozzie," read the clerk as tears began to flow from the eyes of many.
"I feel numb. It's like you gear up for two years. You know you're getting a little bit better, but you know it's going to get ripped open again. You dread it. You don't know how it's going to play out and when it does, you kinda feel yourself start breathing again," said Wilkes.
It's a truly deep breath for the first time in two years for the Wilkes family and Assistant State Attorney, Bobby Elmore.
"Our world was a more beautiful place with Courtney Wilkes in it, and it will be a better place when Steven Cozzie is out of it," said Elmore.
For the Wilkes family, they realize another family is losing a son
Both sides exchanged tearful apologies for an action that tragically changed both their lives.
Now, the Wilkes family is looking forward to the journey home back to Lyons, Georgia, where, on there land, their Courtney is waiting for them.
"I have looked so forward to the day when we can go up on that hill, pat her on the headstone and say, "Baby, it's over. We got him. Rest in peace." and I'm headed home right now to go tell her," said Wilkes.
Judge Kelvin Wells will hold a Spencer hearing to make his motion based off of the jury's recommendation at a later date.
Cozzie is granted an immediate appeal.