By: Richard L. Smith
Samuel C. Coggins, 31, Flemington, has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the tragic criminal homicide of Mr. Augustine Garcia, 50, from Manville.
Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald announced the verdict, which was delivered on October 3, 2023.
The incident that led to this conviction occurred on Thursday, July 14, 2022, around 2:56 p.m., when Manville Police responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting an assault outside a residence on North 12th Avenue in Manville.
Upon arrival at the scene, Manville Officers discovered an unconscious male suffering from severe head injuries and immediately initiated life-saving measures alongside emergency medical personnel.
The victim, later identified as Augustine Garcia, was transported to a local hospital, where he was sadly pronounced deceased.
Prosecutor McDonald revealed that the 9-1-1 caller, identified as Samuel C. Coggins, had remained at the scene and was involved in the physical assault of Mr. Garcia.
Consequently, Coggins was transported to the Manville Police Department as part of the preliminary investigation.
Detectives from both the Manville Police Department and the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit, along with the Crime Scene Investigations Unit, joined forces to conduct a thorough investigation.
The investigation unveiled that Coggins had been at the residence to assist Garcia and another unnamed resident with moving.
Tragically, a physical altercation erupted between Coggins and Garcia in the residence's driveway, resulting in injuries that ultimately led to Mr. Garcia's tragic death.
Coggins received a trial by jury during the week of September 25, 2023, presided over by the Honorable Peter J. Tober, Presiding Judge, Criminal Division.
The jury subsequently returned a verdict of guilty on October 3, 2023, on both counts of Indictment No. 22-09-00446-I.
These charges include first-degree murder, aggravated by factors suggesting the murder was exceptionally heinous, and first-degree Bias Intimidation.
Coggins is scheduled for sentencing on November 13, 2023.
He faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, with the potential for an additional prison term ranging from 15 to 30 years.
This additional sentence will also be served in a maximum-security prison.