ATLANTA – Two men have been arrested in the four-year-old stabbing death of the husband of Ashley Smith (search), whose call to 911 in March led authorities to Atlanta courthouse shootings suspect Brian Nichols (search).
The arrests occurred Wednesday after witnesses came forward with new testimony in the 2001 murder case of her husband, officials said.
Barry Keith Tabor Jr., 24, and Cory Blaine Coggins, 23, were arrested after a grand jury indicted them on murder charges, Maj. Rick Whitaker of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office said. Both have been charged with murder and were being held without bond at the Columbia County Detention Center.
Whitaker said he did not know if publicity stemming from Smith's ordeal as a hostage played a role in the new leads but that "it may have."
In March, the 26-year-old widowed mother received widespread praise after leading police to Nichols, who authorities say killed four people — including a judge — after going on a shooting rampage at the Atlanta courthouse where he was being tried on rape charges. Smith, who has also received $70,000 in rewards, said Nichols held her hostage for hours in her apartment before she persuaded him to release her.
Four years ago, her husband, Daniel "Mack" Smith, died in her arms after being stabbed during a brawl outside an Augusta-area apartment complex.
Ashley Smith later left the area, moving to the Atlanta suburb of Norcross. It was there that she had her encounter with Nichols.