Teen Testifies that Wilkes' Killer tried to Strangle Her - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Teen Testifies that Wilkes' Killer tried to Strangle Her

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Steven Cozzie Steven Cozzie
Courtney Wilkes Courtney Wilkes

A teenage girl took the stand in the penalty phase of the Steven Cozzie trial in Florida Tuesday saying that she had survived a frightening experience with the convicted killer.  Cozzie has already been found guilty of the murder of Courtney Wilkes of Lyons, Georgia.

 The teenager and her family had been on vacation in South Walton County from Kentucky at the time. 

The girl testified that a few days after meeting him, Cozzie invited her to go for a walk. "And I like stepped in front and was walking and he came up behind me and tried to like…he strangled me. He put like a cloth type thing around my neck" she said.

The girl went on to say that after a few minutes Cozzie suddenly stopped and backed away leaving her "scared to death."

The girl's mother and grandmother also testified about the incident, which for some reason they decided not to report to police.

"We talked about it. We'd been there all week and we were leaving the next day. We both had to go back to work. We thought she had not been raped. She was emotionally upset and physically upset I'm sure and we just made a poor choice" said the girl's grandmother Pauline Stewart.

A week later, police would find the body of Courtney Wilkes on a nature trail about a half mile from where her family was vacationing.  She had been strangled, beaten, and sexually assaulted.

The penalty phase of the trial is expected to wrap up Wednesday.  The jury must then decide whether to sentence Cozzie to life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

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