First of two ‘Murder in Coweta County’ programs tonight

The first of two programs marking the airing of the made-for-television special “Murder in Coweta County” some three decades ago is tonight at the historic Coweta County Courthouse, where the trial of John Wallace took place.

The city of Newnan and Coweta County have partnered to remember the story of “Murder in Coweta County,” which aired on CBS 31 years ago and tells the story of the death-penalty trial of Wallace, a Meriwether County landowner charged with killing a sharecropper. Johnny Cash played Coweta County Sheriff Lamar Potts and Andy Griffith, known for his roles in “The Andy Griffith Show” and later “Matlock,” played the role of Wallace.

Newnan Theatre Company recently commissioned a stage play script about the story, which has been completed by local writer Jeff Bishop. One goal of the group is to eventually stage the play in the courtroom of the Coweta County Courthouse.

According to Coweta County events services coordinator Tray Baggarly, one of the movie’s producers is scheduled to speak about the project beginning at 7 p.m. Dick Atkins, will talk about what went into turning local author Margaret Anne Barnes’ book into the made-for-TV movie. Barnes at one time was a reporter for the Newnan Times-Herald.

Several local residents will be displaying memorabilia associated with the movie, and some who were extras in the production will talk about their experiences. The town of Zebulon stood in for Newnan in the television production.

On Thursday at 7 p.m. at the nearby Newnan Carnegie Library on the Court Square, Atkins’ presentation on production will be followed by a screening of the made-for-television movie. “Murder in Coweta County” is the true story of a brutal 1948 murder that pitted Wallace against Coweta County Sheriff Lamar Potts. The trial was the first in Georgia in which a white man was convicted on the testimony of black witnesses. The trial was held in the second floor courtroom at the Coweta County Courthouse, and the guilty verdict was read there on June 18, 1948 – 65 years ago. Light refreshments will follow both of the programs, which are free. For more information, contact the Coweta County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 770-254-2627 or the Carnegie Library at 770-683-1347.

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