A hearing on motions in the murder case pending against William Marcus “Marc” Wilson remained scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, April 28, after the presiding judge declined a defense request to postpone the hearing and re-emphasized that a jury trial is slated to begin June 27.
During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Ronald K. “Ronnie” Thompson could consider any motions filed by Wilson’s defense team or Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office prosecutors with the Bulloch County Superior Court through Friday, April 22, the deadline Thompson previously set. Wilson, now 23, from Sharpsburg but with Statesboro family ties, faces charges of felony murder and aggravated assault from the June 2020 shooting death of Haley Hutcheson, 17, a Claxton High School student.
Exactly what motions Thompson would consider wasn’t obvious Wednesday from the court’s searchable database. Prosecutors previously requested that certain filings be withheld from the readily accessible public record prior to being presented during hearings or trial.
But subpoenas for witnesses to appear Thursday were visible, as were a defense attorney’s letter asserting a scheduling conflict, a defense motion requesting a continuance for other reasons, and the judge’s order denying that request and stating that he resolved the scheduling conflict. Thompson also issued his fourth and latest scheduling order, reiterating that the dates June 27-July 1 are set aside for the trial and slating a further hearing for 1 p.m. May 12 for any remaining pre-trial motions.
Wilson’s lead attorney, Francys Johnson, had filed a letter April 7 noting that he was scheduled to appear 9 a.m. April 28 both at Wilson’s hearing and at a jury trial in a case in Cherokee County. This type of scheduling conflict occurs often, and courts have rules for deciding which case takes priority.
Then another attorney on Wilson’s team, Martha C. Hall, filed a motion Tuesday seeking a continuance, or in other words a postponement, of Thursday’s hearing to a later date. She noted that the defense on March 18 had requested a transcript of Wilson’s earlier immunity hearing. But the official court reporter indicated that the transcript would not be available until Thursday morning, Hall stated.
“Counsel for the Defendant must have this transcript in order to adequately prepare for the hearing on the motions that have been previously filed,” she wrote. “The Defendant will be recalling certain witnesses who had previously testified at the immunity hearing and therefore needs the transcript to ensure the accuracy of their testimony. The Defendant has a constitutional right to confront witnesses with their prior testimony.”
Hall further stated that on April 21, the day before the deadline for filing motions, the District Attorney’s Office had provided the defense a police detective’s “case supplemental report” that appeared to have been available since Oct. 23, 2020, and on April 25 had provided a document labeled “evid receipts firearms.pdf.”
“This document apparently indicates that there was some test firing completed and counsel for the Defendant is in the process of reviewing the discovery to tie this document to previous firearms information,” Hall stated. “There may be the need to file additional motions related to this most recent discovery.”
But in his order denying the continuance, also filed Tuesday afternoon, Thompson stated that Thursday’s hearing was “intended for the purpose of addressing pre-trial motions, not retrying the immunity hearing or assessing the veracity of witnesses.”
He noted that the court had heard the immunity hearing testimony and stated that defense attorneys “should it prove necessary during the motions hearing, can point out any believed inconsistencies in the testimony of any witness.”
He stated that the immunity hearing transcript would be prepared before the trial and available to both sides.
In regard to the “case supplemental report” and “evid receipts firearms.pdf,” the court would schedule a future date to allow Wilson’s attorneys “to file and argue any motions … regarding these recently provided documents,” the judge stated. He then included the additional, May 12, hearing time in the new scheduling order.
Thompson also wrote that he had resolved Johnson’s scheduling conflict by speaking with the office of Cherokee Superior Court Judge Anthony Baker, who indicated that Johnson “was merely on stand-by” for the trial and not required to appear there Thursday.
On March 4, concluding a three-day hearing, Thompson denied Wilson’s motion for immunity from prosecution under a “stand your ground” claim, but acknowledged that an argument of self-defense remains available to him as an affirmative defense at trial.
According to testimony at previous hearings, when Wilson fired several shots from a 9mm handgun while driving his Ford Focus along Veterans Memorial Parkway, Statesboro’s bypass, shortly before 1 a.m. on June 14, 2020, one bullet struck Hutcheson, 17, in the back of the head. At the time she was riding with four other teenagers from Claxton in a crew-cab Chevrolet Silverado pickup.
Before and during the immunity hearing, the defense attorneys asserted that Wilson, who is biracial, and his then-girlfriend, who is white, were subjected to racist aggression by occupants of the truck, including attempts to run Wilson’s car off the road.