Testimony begins in Cozzie murder trial

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM.

Toni Wilkes, the mother of Courtney Wilkes, teared up on the witness stand Tuesday as she described the last words she spoke to her daughter: “OK baby, but be responsible.”

Courtney, the oldest of three children of a family from tiny Lyons, Ga., looked ecstatic that day on the beach, more so when she received permission on June 16, 2011, to take a walk with “the lifeguard dude” who had become a casual acquaintance during the Wilkes’ weeklong vacation at the Beachcrest condominiums in Seagrove Beach.

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For 15-year-old Courtney, it was the first boy or man she’d been allowed to spend time alone with, Toni Wilkes said.

“She was not allowed to date until she was 16. She never even asked,” her mother said.

The Wilkes family watched Courtney walk off with the man they would come to know as 21-year-old Steven Cozzie. Some five hours later they would learn that she had been killed and Cozzie had been charged with murder.

The trial began about 2 p.m. Tuesday after a day and a half was spent selecting a jury. It is expected to take two weeks.

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