Special Report to Blowing Rock News from District Attorney Seth Banks. July 28, 2017. BOONE, NC – On July 28th, 2017, after a weeklong hearing, a panel of three Superior Court Judges unanimously upheld the 1996 conviction of Robert Charles Bragg in the murder of Coy Hartley.
In December of 1994, Marvin “Coy” Hartley, a 76-year-old man, was murdered in his home in Boone, North Carolina. The autopsy revealed that Mr. Hartley died from a blunt force traumatic injury to his head. After a joint investigation by the Boone Police Department and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Kenneth Eugene Coffey and Robert Charles Bragg were identified as suspects and charged with murder.
On December 1, 1995, Mr. Coffey was found guilty by a Watauga County jury of First Degree Murder. Subsequently, On February 26, 1996, Mr. Bragg was found guilty by a Watauga County jury of First Degree Murder.
We approach every case from the perspective that guilt shall not escape nor innocence suffer.
In September of 2016 the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission voted 6 to 2 that there was sufficient evidence to merit judicial review. The hearing before the three judge panel began on July 24th, 2017.
“We approach every case from the perspective that guilt shall not escape nor innocence suffer,” District Attorney Seth Banks said in a statement. “Therefore, my office respects the search for the truth that occurred through this process. In finding that Mr. Bragg has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that he is actually innocent, the Court has confirmed that the original 1996 verdict should stand.”
“I would like to thank Assistant District Attorney Matt Rupp, Capt. Andy LeBeau and Lt. Chris Hatton with the Boone Police Department, and Special Agent Wade Colvard with State Bureau of Investigations, for their hard work over the last several months as we reexamined the evidence in this case. Finally, I would like to thank former District Attorneys Tom Rusher and Jerry Wilson, as well as the original investigators from both the Boone Police Department and the SBI, for their work on this case in the mid-1990s, and for their cooperation as we prepared for this hearing.”