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Gary Michael Hilton - Florida Death Row
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Thread: Gary Michael Hilton - Florida Death Row

  1. #1
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    Gary Michael Hilton - Florida Death Row

    Victims: Meredith Emerson, 24, Cheryl “Sherri” Hodges Dunlap, 46, John Bryant, 80, and Irene Bryant, 84

    On New Year's Day 2008, 24-year-old University of Georgia graduate Meredith Emerson went hiking in the north Georgia mountains hear Vogel State Park with her dog Ella as she had done many times before. She failed to return home from the hike. Witnesses remember seeing her talking with a gray-haired man in his 60s who had a red dog named Dandy.

    Gary Michael Hilton Extradited to Florida
    June 6, 2008
    A man who is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, murder and decapitation of a Georgia hiker has been extradited to Florida to face charges of killing and decapitating a woman in the Apalachicola National Forest. Gary Michael Hilton will face trial for the death of 46-year-old Cheryl Hodges Dunlap, a nurse from Crawfordville, Florida.

    Hilton May Have Used Gun on One Victim
    May 16, 2008
    Federal authorities may now get involved with the prosecution of a suspected serial killer after autopsy results showed that one of his alleged victims died of a gunshot wound. John Bryant, who disappeared while hiking with his wife in North Carolina, died of a gunshot to the head, according to the autopsy.

    Gary Michael Hilton to Fight Florida Extradition
    April 8, 2008
    The man who confessed in detail to the kidnapping and murder of Meredith Emerson in the north Georgia mountains, has decided to fight extradition to Florida to face charges of killing a woman in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee. He also wants a court-appointed attorney to help him avoid being transferred to Florida.

    Meredith Emerson Fought Hard to Survive
    March 24, 2008
    A Georgia hiker who was killed and decapitated in the north Georgia mountains, used her wits and her martial arts training to fight off her attacker for four days, desperately trying to save her life.

    Gary Michael Hilton Helped With Murder Movie
    March 14, 2008
    In a strange twist to an already bizarre case, an accused serial killer once helped develop a plot to a murder movie that had similarities to the crimes that he is now accused of committing. An Atlanta attorney who also produces movies said Gary Michael Hilton helped him come up with the plot of "Deadly Run" in 1995.

    Gary Michael Hilton Indicted in Florida
    Feb. 29, 2008
    A man who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to killing a hiker in the north Georgia mountains has now been indicted in the death of Cheryl Hodges Dunlap in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida.

    Gary Michael Hilton Pleads Guilty
    Feb. 1, 2008
    In a stunning development in the case of a murdered and decapitated Georgia hiker, Gary Michael Hilton was indicted, pleaded guilty and sentenced to life in prison all within one court day.

    Hiker Suspect May Be Serial Killer
    Jan. 17, 2008
    The man accused of beating a 24-year-old Georgia hiker to death and decapitating her is suspected in at least four other murder cases in three different states. Authorities from Georgia, North Carolina and Florida met this week to compare notes on Gary Michael Hilton, suspected in the deaths of several other hikers.

    Hiker Was Alive 3 Days Before Beaten to Death
    Jan. 8, 2008
    Meredith Emerson was alive for three days after she disappeared from a Georgia hiking trail New Year's Day before she died from a blow to the head and was later decapitated. The man accused of her death led authorities to her body in exchange for not facing the death penalty.

    Suspect Leads Police to Hiker's Body
    Jan. 7, 2008
    An autopsy is scheduled today for Meredith Emerson whose body was found after her accused kidnapper showed authorities where to find it in the Georgia woods. Investigators would not give any details on the condition of her body or her possible cause of death.

    Man Arrested in Missing Hiker Case
    Jan. 5, 2008
    A 61-year-old Georgia man has been charged with kidnapping with bodily injury in connection with the case of missing hiker, Meredith Emerson, after police found three blood-soaked shirts that belonged to the 24-year-old Buford woman. Investigators also have surveillance photos of Gary Michael Hilton trying to use Emerson's ATM card, they said at a news conference.

    Police Seek Clues in Missing Hiker Case
    Jan 4, 2008
    A 24-year-old Georgia woman has been missing since New Year's Day and authorities are seeking a "person of interest" who was seen talking with her on a popular trial in the North Georgia Mountains. Meredith Emerson, a 2005 graduate of the University of Georgia, was an experienced mountain trial hiker along with her dog Ella.

  2. #2
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    Fla. murder trial to start for man suspected in Western North Carolina hiker slayings

    After more than two years of delays, a man suspected of killing a Henderson County couple is set for trial in another slaying in Florida.

    Gary Michael Hilton will be tried on first-degree murder and other charges in the death of Cheryl Dunlap, a Florida nurse and Sunday schoolteacher found slain in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee on Dec. 15, 2007.

    More than 20 pretrial motions will be taken up by Leon Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson at a hearing Friday in Tallahassee.

    Hilton, 64, pleaded guilty Jan. 31, 2008, to the killing of Meredith Emerson, a 24-year-old hiker he abducted in north Georgia. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 2038.

    Authorities have linked him to at least three other slayings, including Henderson County couple John and Irene Bryant, who disappeared in October 2007 while hiking near the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest.

    The body of Irene Bryant was found in the Pink Beds area of Pisgah National Forest in November 2007 and her husband's body was found three months later near Franklin. Hilton has not been charged in their killings.

    In the upcoming trial, the many motions filed by Hilton's public defenders include one to keep confidential requests forbidding the state from discussing the condition of Dunlap's body — or the murder of a Georgia hiker — as evidence in the penalty phase of the trial. The defense also wants separate juries for the guilt and penalty portions of the trial and to limit victim impact statements to stop jurors from being unfairly prejudiced at sentencing.

    Hilton faces the death penalty in the Dunlap case. Jury selection is set to begin Jan. 21


  3. #3
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    Oct 2010
    Jurors in Hilton Trial to be Questioned One by One

    Accused killer Gary Michael Hilton will be in court tomorrow as attorneys get ready for his trial at the end of the month.

    Hilton is accused of killing Crawfordville Sunday school teacher Cheryl Dunlap in December 2007 and dumping her body in the Apalachicola National Forest. He could face the death penalty if he's convicted.

    Hilton's attorneys have filed more than a dozen motions . The judge today ruled that prospective jurors will be questioned individually, behind closed doors about their knowledge of the case and any news coverage they have seen.

    He denied a request to question them individually about their feelings on the death penalty.

    The judge is expected to hear many of the other motions tomorrow.

    Hilton's trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on January 31st.


  4. #4
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    Jury Selection for Gary Michael Hilton Case to Begin Monday

    Jury selection for a man accused of killing a Crawfordville woman begins tomorrow.

    220 potential jurors have been summonsed to court and those selected will ultimately determine the fate of Gary Michael Hilton.

    Hilton is accused of kidnapping and killing a 46-year-old Florida State University nurse and Crawfordville Sunday school teacher, Cheryl Dunlap, back in December of 2007.

    Hunters discovered Dunlap's body in the Apalachicola National Forest.

    Hilton potentially faces the death penalty if found guilty.


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    Bryant family speaks about Hilton, possible charges

    Family members of John and Irene Bryant say it's been a hard three years since the death of their parents, but they believe justice may be served after a man linked to their parent's murder stands trial in Florida on an unrelated murder charge.

    Opening statements began Friday in Florida in the murder trial of Gary Michael Hilton, 64. Hilton has already pleaded guilty to the murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson in Georgia, where her beaten body was found in a forest. Now he is standing trial and could face the death penalty if convicted in Tallahassee in the murder of Cheryl Dunlap.

    Hilton still has not been charged in North Carolina for the murders of the Byrants, an elderly couple who were hiking in Pisgah National Forest in October 2007 when they disappeared. Irene's body was found in November, and John's in February.

    “It's been extremely hard,” Holly Bryant said Friday. “We would like to see justice done. I am just glad he is off the street. Unfortunately he was able to do this to two other people before he was caught.”

    While the U.S. Department of Justice has not released any information to the public or media since 2008, Holly Bryant said that a lot has been happening behind the scenes.

    “We have been told that anything he (Hilton) says at his current trial can be used against him in a trial in North Carolina,” she said. “The Department of Justice has said they are waiting for the outcome in Florida then plan to pursue charges in North Carolina. They have promised us they will seek charges and they plan to seek the death penalty.”

    Lia Bantavani, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Friday that nothing had been filed in the case for Hilton and the U.S. Department of Justice could not comment.

    The Bryants, an older but fit and active couple, had gone on a hike in 2007 and never returned. John, 81, and Irene, 84, of Horse Shoe, were avid hikers and often took strolls in the trails near the Pink Beds in Pisgah National Forest.

    The missing persons case quickly turned into a homicide investigation in November 2007, when deputies found Irene's body along Yellow Gap Road. An autopsy showed she had been beaten to death. In February 2008, a hunter found her husband's skeletal remains near Franklin. An autopsy showed he died from a gunshot to the head.

    It did not take long for Transylvania County officials to name a prime suspect — drifter Hilton, identified by police in January 2008.

    Seeking the death penalty is now important to Holly Bryant because of her parents' stance on capital punishment.

    “My parents strongly believed in the death penalty for horrendous crimes,” she said. “For that reason I am for it as a way to speak for my parents.”

    “We've been told there is DNA evidence that links Hilton to our parents' murders,” she added. “Another reason they have not sought charges, they have told us, is he is in a place where he can't get away and they assured us they will seek the death penalty.”

    Holly Bryant, who lives in Palm Bay, Fla. , aid while she considered going to Tallahassee to witness Hilton's trial first hand, she has not done so.

    “I don't want to take attention away from Ms. Dunlap's family,” she said. “I don't think I could do any good and it would upset me, so I haven't gone.”

    While Holly Bryant said she is thankful Hilton was caught and appreciates what the authorities have done in their investigation, she said it was a citizen's information that led to his arrest.

    “I want to thank the citizen who reported what they saw that led to Hilton's arrest,” she said. “It is my understanding that this citizen saw him cleaning blood out of his van and called the authorities.”

    Holly Bryant also has some words of wisdom for older residents who may have restricted their lives after hearing about the Bryant's tragedy.

    “Something was said at my parents memorial service that stuck out to me,” she said. “They went out and enjoyed life. They weren't scared. I hope that people will continue to live their lives and don't let monsters, like Hilton, make them restrict their lives.”

    Holly Bryant, who also enjoys hiking, said that now when she hikes it makes her feel close to her parents.

    “I think of my parents every day,” she said. “I use their values to help guide me.”

    Holly's brother, Bob, said while the past three years have been hard, he has healed some.

    “I am a member of a support group for survivors of crimes, and that has helped,” he said. “It has still been difficult.”

    Bob Bryant said he is disappointed with the length of time it has taken the U.S. Department of Justice to do something in his parents case.

    “I understand there are multiple cases, but these families deserve justice,” he said.

    Bob Bryant said that it is his understanding the Hilton couldn't be indicted in his parents death until the Florida trial is complete.

    “He is guaranteed a speedy trial after he has been charged and the Florida case would have tied that up,” he said.

    To keep his parents memory alive, Bob Bryant keeps pictures of them around him.

    “It helps me to remember their pleasant attitude and what great people they were,” he said.


  6. #6
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    Oct 2010
    Second Gary Michael Hilton murder trial heads to jury

    Convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton's admittedly unprepared defense team has rested after just one witness, with the Leon County, Fla., jury expected to receive the case Tuesday.

    Hilton, who pleaded guilty in January 2008 to killing Buford hiker Meredith Emerson, is charged in the December 2007 murder of Florida Sunday school teacher Cheryl Dunlap. Public defender Ines Suber sought to delay the start of the Jan. 31 trial -- which came exactly three years after Hilton was convicted in Dawson County for Emerson's murder -- saying she did not have ample time to prepare.

    The defense's only witness, Dr. Adina Schwartz, disputed state evidence that a slash mark found in Dunlap's tire was made by Hilton's bayonet, calling it a "subjective" conclusion, according to WCTV in Tallahassee. Schwartz testified Monday that investigators could not account for variables such as the composition of the tire or the angle of the knife.

    Though Hilton declined to take the stand, the jury heard him speak in "home movies" inadvertently captured on the drifter's camera. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, "Hilton [was] heard mumbling, humming, singing and making pig-like grunting noises as he [rummaged] around [his] van.

    At one point he can be heard saying "killed them with that" and "killed those [expletive]."

    Then, the paper reports, Hilton said, apparently to his dog, "Now we're done, we're going to the park. But first I have to go hide this somewhere else."

    Prosecutors also presented evidence that Hilton told investigators he didn't start killing until September 2007 -- one month before an elderly North Carolina couple disappeared in the Pisgah National Forest. Hilton has not been charged in the deaths of John and Irene Bryant, but investigators say he is a prime suspect.

    Hilton, if convicted in Florida, could receive the death penalty -- a sentence he avoided in the Emerson case by leading officials to the UGA graduate's body, which he had hidden in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area north of Cumming.


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    Update: Jury in Hilton trial stepped out for deliberations shortly after noon

    Update 12:35 p.m.

    A jury of six men and six women in the Gary Michael Hilton trial have stepped out of the courtroom to begin deliberations.

    Earlier story

    More than three years after Cheryl Dunlap's dismembered body was found by a hunter in the woods of western Leon County, jurors this morning will hear final attorney arguments and decide whether Gary Michael Hilton abducted, killed and robbed the Crawfordville nurse in December 2007.

    Hilton's team of public defenders rested their case Monday morning, after presenting testimony from one witness intended to discredit a tool mark expert who said Hilton's bayonet was the weapon that punctured the tire of Dunlap's car.

    In a video deposition played for the jury, New York attorney and criminology professor Adina Schwartz said tool mark analysis is a subjective practice, lacking in scientific standards and protocols. She testified that the opinion of Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst Jeff Foggy was unreliable because of his methods and lack of expertise.


  8. #8
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    Gary Michael Hilton convicted in Florida murder case

    The man who killed a Georgia hiker three years ago was convicted Tuesday of murdering a Florida woman in a similar manner.

    The jury deliberated for three hours and 40 minutes before convicting 64-year-old Gary Michael Hilton, who did not take the stand. Hilton could get the death penalty for killing and decapitating Cheryl Dunlap, a 46-year-old nurse and Sunday school teacher, in December 2007. He was also convicted of stealing Dunlap's ATM card.

    Hilton already is serving life in prison in Georgia after pleading guilty to the January 2008 slaying of Buford hiker Meredith Emerson. Hilton lead investigators to the body of 24-year-old Emerson and avoided a death penalty sentence. Hilton admitted he kidnapped Emerson and her dog from a trail at Blood Mountain, in north Georgia, on New Year's Day.

    In the Hilton and Dunlap murders, both women were found in a wooded area and both had been decapitated.

    Hilton also is suspected in the disappearance of an elderly North Carolina couple in 2007, but he has not been charged in that case.

    Jurors in Florida are expected to return Thursday to hear testimony about whether to recommend death or life in prison for Dunlap's murder. Circuit Judge James Hankinson will not be bound by the recommendation, but must consider it before sentencing Hilton.

    In her closing argument, Florida Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman asserted that Hilton, balding and wearing a coat and tie as he sat hunched over at the defense table, looked and acted differently when Dunlap disappeared on Dec. 1, 2007. She said he was "a woodsman, a survivalist and proficient bayonet fighter" when he allegedly killed Dunlap after she'd gone to a park area in the Apalachicola National Forest southwest of Tallahassee.

    No one witnessed Hilton abducting Dunlap and the evidence in the case was circumstantial, Hilton's lawyer said.

    Assistant public defender Ines Suber said no fingerprint evidence connected Hilton to the crime and that a medical examiner was unable to verify that skull and hand bones found in a fire pit at a campsite he allegedly used belonged to the victim.

    "We have absolutely no evidence, no direct evidence, that Mr. Hilton committed murder in this case," Suber said.

    In rebuttal, Cappleman said the charred bones could not be identified nor could Dunlap's fingerprints be obtained "because of the defendant's own handiwork." The victim's hands had been chopped off.

    Cappleman also said jurors should listen to Hilton's own words, captured in digital videos and overheard by a jail officer.

    In videos, which technicians were able to extract from his camera although they'd been erased, made in the days following Dunlap's disappearance. Hilton can be heard using crude language to say he was going to get some good sex someday and then adding "She was no good. She was nasty."

    He also talked about hiding "stuff" and said "Yeah, I killed those ..." using a vulgar term for women.

    Cappleman also quoted testimony by a Leon County Jail officer who said he overhead Hilton tell another inmate that if the state would give him life that he'd tell authorities where to find Dunlap's head


  9. #9
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    Hilton sentencing expected today

    Jurors in the capital-murder trial of Gary Michael Hilton are expected to decide today whether the 64-year-old should be executed for killing Cheryl Dunlap in December 2007.

    After cross-examination this morning by Assistant Public Defender Robert Friedman of a state forensic psychologist who labeled the twice-convicted killer a psychopath, the jury that on Tuesday found Hilton guilty of murdering Dunlap will hear instructions and closing arguments then begin deliberations.

    If a majority of the 12 jurors recommend the death penalty and it is formally imposed by Circuit Judge James Hankinson, it will be the first time in nearly 20 years that someone tried in Leon County has been sent to Florida's Death Row.

    Hilton, who also killed Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson weeks after Dunlap, is a suspect in several other slayings, including that of an elderly North Carolina couple. He cut off the heads of both Emerson and Dunlap in an effort to cover up his crimes. Hilton also cut off Dunlap's hands after she was dead and incinerated them, along with her head, in a campsite burn pit in the Apalachicola National Forest.

    Friedman presented jurors with two full days of testimony last week intended to convince them to spare Hilton and recommend a sentence of life in prison.

    Expert witnesses for the defense said a traumatic brain injury at the age of 10 combined with an emotionally abusive childhood and the dangerous introduction of high doses of Ritalin set off a mentally-ill Hilton in 2007 and caused him to kill.

    The state's expert witness, forensic psychologist Greg Prichard, countered that rather than suffering from a schizoaffective disorder that rendered him unable to control his impulses, Hilton was a psychopath with personality and character issues who chose to victimize others for his own benefit.


  10. #10
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    Hilton Gets Death Penalty

    A Florida jury has sentenced suspected serial killer Gary Michael Hilton to death for the 2007 murder of Cheryl Dunlap.

    Hilton was already serving a life sentence in Georgia after pleading guilty to kidnapping and killing hiker Meredith Emerson in January 2008.

    Hilton is also a suspect in the murders of John and Irene Bryant of Henderson County. The couple disappeared in October of 2008 while hiking in Pisgah National Forest. Irene Bryant's body was found a few weeks later, while John Bryant's remains weren't found until the following February. Hilton has not been charged in those murders.


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