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Judge finds Marc Wilson not eligible for immunity in Hutcheson homicide
But grants $100,000 bond for his release awaiting trial; April 18 jury selection set
Superior Court Judge Ronald K. Thompson and Bulloch County Superior Clerk of Courts Heather Banks McNeal  listen to lead defense attorney Francys Johnson's closing argument during immunity hearing for William Marcus Wilson on Friday, March 4. Thompson den
Superior Court Judge Ronald K. Thompson and Bulloch County Superior Clerk of Courts Heather Banks McNeal listen to lead defense attorney Francys Johnson's closing argument during immunity hearing for William Marcus Wilson on Friday, March 4. Thompson denied the motion for immunity but granted bond for Wilson, who has spent nearly 21 months in jail.

Concluding a three-day hearing at the Bulloch County Judicial Annex, Superior Court Judge Ronnie Thompson on Friday afternoon denied William Marcus “Marc” Wilson’s request for immunity from prosecution for felony murder and related charges in the June 14, 2020 shooting death of 17-year-old Haley Hutcheson.

Thompson then scheduled a jury trial to begin with selection of jurors April 18 and immediately held a brief bond hearing. He set a $100,000 bond for Wilson’s release from jail to his father’s home, under house arrest with other conditions, awaiting trial. Having been denied bond by another judge previously assigned the case, Wilson, who is now 23, had spent more than 20 months in the Bulloch County Jail since turning himself in three days after Hutcheson’s death. By Friday night his name had been removed from the active jail log.

Wilson’s defense team, led by attorney Francys Johnson of Statesboro, had sought to have him declared immune from prosecution on a self-defense claim under Georgia’s “stand your ground” law. This was based on statements by Wilson to his family and attorneys that Wilson, who is biracial, and his then-girlfriend, Emma Rigdon, who is white, were subjected to racist aggression, including attempts to run Wilson’s car off the road, by a group of white teenagers riding in a pickup truck on Veterans Memorial Parkway in Statesboro that night.

The five occupants of the truck included Mason Glisson, who was driving, with Ashton Deloach beside him in the front passenger seat and Luke Conley and Marci Neagley in the back seat on either side of Hutcheson. The young men in the truck were drinking beer and had bought alcoholic beverages for the young women, although all were underage.

Defense attorneys proffered evidence and witnesses about the reputation and prior actions of some of the three young men who were in the truck.  Some of those witnesses had been brought in to speak to the judge during an hour Thursday morning when he sent reporters and the public out of the courtroom.

But Thompson repeatedly said that he would focus on what happened on the highway that night, at least for the immunity hearing.

Rigdon testified Thursday that the pickup truck swerved at Wilson’s car, putting them in fear of being run off the road, as occupants of the truck hung out of its windows. Then Wilson fired his gun two different times, first to urge the truck’s occupants to leave them alone, and again after the truck slowed down but speeded toward them again, Rigdon testified. Other witnesses said that he fired as many as five shots.


Immunity denied

Thompson issued a written ruling, which he read in court. Before summarizing the evidence, he quoted from a 2008 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that someone is justified in using potentially deadly force “only if he or she  reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or  herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

“Here, there is no evidence that defendant’s vehicle was rammed by the truck driven by Mason Glisson, nor is there evidence that defendant’s vehicle suffered damage from gun fire or objects thrown from the truck,” Thompson said.

But there is evidence that the truck’s passenger windows were down and that at least two of the passengers, Conley and Deloach, leaned out of the windows, he said.

Following the conclusion of pretrial hearings on Friday, William Marcus Wilson glances at his mother Amanda before being led out of the courtroom after being denied immunity from prosecution based on "stand your ground" statutes, but being granted bond after spending almost 21 months in jail.

“There is evidence that the passengers shouted at the vehicle driven by the defendant. There is some dispute as to whether the shouts were profanities or racial slurs directed at the defendant,” Thompson wrote.

But he said there was no evidence of that Wilson and the occupants the truck knew each other, or even knew of each other, before the incident.

Thompson noted the existence of  evidence that Wilson “fired multiple shots on two different occasions” and that  “the second  volley of shots were directed at the truck, and  that the shot that killed Haley Hutcheson entered through the back glass, or rear window, of the truck.”

He said this “necessarily means that at the time that the fatal shot was discharged the truck was in front” of Wilson’s car.

The judge also noted that Wilson “was not  under  a duty to retreat,” which as Johnson had noted, is the essence of the “stand  your ground”  law.

“The Court further notes that while there is evidence that the two male passengers of the truck were the initial  aggressors and it is possible that the first series of shots fired were justified, the evidence shows that at the time the fatal shot was  fired during the second volley of shots the unarmed victim was in front  of and traveling away from the Defendant,” Thompson  wrote.

From this, he concluded that the defense had not met its burden of proof for obtaining immunity. But the judge noted that Wilson may still “pursue an affirmative defense of self-defense at trial.”


Bond granted

Marc Wilson’s mother, Amanda Wilson, and father, Deron “Pat” Wilson, attended the hearing and were available to speak to the judge about bond. Pat Wilson, a career firefighter who once worked for the Statesboro Fire Department and  is now deputy chief  of operations for City of South Fulton Fire & Rescue, again  expressed his family’s willingness to meet the conditions of the court and return his son  to face trial.

“I can assure you this family, and that young man right there, regardless of what anybody thinks, will never, ever do wrong by what this court asks,” he told Thompson from the witness stand. “We have done everything humanly possible to make sure.”

He had brought Marc Wilson, his car and the gun back to Bulloch County on June 17, 2020, to answer to the warrant brought by Statesboro police.

Under the conditions set by the judge, at least $20,000 of the $100,000 posted had to be in cash, but the rest could  be property. Under “house arrest,” Wilson must wear an ankle monitor and remain within a 25-mile radius of his father’s home. He is not to use any social media or have any contact with Hutcheson’s family or any witnesses in this case.

Several members of Hutcheson’s family also attended the hearing. Among them were her father, Dusty Hutcheson, and her stepmother, Allison Hutcheson, who had helped raised her from the age of 4.

“We prayed and trusted the Lord for his will today, and justice prevailed for us today,” Allison Hutcheson said after Friday’s session.





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