Coleman-Baker Act goes into effect in Georgia

A new bill in Georgia aims to help families of cold case murder victims across Georgia.
Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 1:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A new bill in Georgia aims to help families of cold case murder victims across Georgia. It establishes a new unit within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation designed specifically to look into those types of cases.

It could be a silver lining for families who continue to look for justice and answers.

The start of the month marks the start of a possible silver lining for Georgia families looking for justice after their loved one is killed and the case goes cold.

The Coleman-Baker Act is named after University of Georgia student, Sue Coleman, killed 21 years ago, and Tara Baker killed in 2001. April of this year, Governor Brian Kemp signed the $5.4 million dollar legislation into law, establishing a cold case unit within the GBI to look specifically into unsolved murders and homicides. The Special Agent in charge, Brian Whidby, says it adds 10 agents as well as support staff plus expands crime scene technology all in hopes of getting justice in criminal cases that have gone cold.

“We will investigate request that come through with the Coleman Baker that again went into effect on July 1 of this year. Any unsolved homicide or murder occurring after January 1, 1970 and more than three years old,” said Whidby. “It allows us to expand some of the crime scene technology, some of the advances in DNA, so it allows us to be able to pay for that to be able to move those kind of things forward.”

That review process must first go through either the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office or Columbus Police Department. However with the unit being in it’s infancy stage that could take some time according to Whidby.

How long before that day comes is up in the air - Whidby says the GBI currently has roughly 600 cases on their plate that qualify for a Coleman-Baker review.

“In the future if possible, not right now, the GBI we have plans to, we hope to be able to extend what we’re able to do to the local agency and possibly review cases and give suggestions on cases that the GBI wasn’t initially involved in,” said Whidby

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