William “Marc” Wilson, 21, remains in the Bulloch County Jail on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault in the shooting death of Haley Hutcheson, 17, after Superior Court Judge Michael Muldrew denied Wilson bond Tuesday.
In a preliminary hearing in the morning, Muldrew had ruled the evidence sufficient to send those charges on to a grand jury. He then took up the defense’s request for bond in the afternoon.
Hutcheson was riding in a pickup truck with four other teenagers the night of June 13-14 when she was struck by a bullet in the back of her head. This occurred around 12:45 a.m. Sunday, June 14, and other occupants of the truck took her to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 1:04 a.m., Statesboro Police Department Detective Travis Kreun testified.
Wilson’s defense attorneys have asserted that he was defending himself and a girlfriend who was with him in his car that night from a racist attack when he fired a handgun in the direction of the truck.
Two members of Wilson’s legal team, Francys Johnson and Mawuli Davis, asked witnesses if occupants of the truck had shouted the racial slurs “n…” and “n… lover” at Wilson, who is biracial, and the girlfriend, who is white, and attempted to run them off the road.
Kreun testified that Wilson told him only that “he heard statements he did not like” from the occupants of the truck, who “yelled racial slurs” but that Wilson had not said what words were used.
Emma Rigdon, now identified as the girlfriend, was not called to testify Monday. However, Kreun testified that Rigdon told police that Wilson told her that he had heard racial slurs but that she had not heard any.
In her statement, Rigdon did tell police that she saw the truck swerving and heard “a loud boom,” Kreun said. She also told them Wilson had fired shots with his handgun into the ground, according to the detective.
Police found a can of beer on the highway, matching a particular variety, Michelob Ultra Lime or Kiwi Infusion, that occupants of the truck were drinking. Police recovered handgun shell casings near the beer can.
The driver of the pickup, Mason Glisson, 18, testified that the teenagers in his truck had a 12-pack of that type of beer, plus a Smirnoff alcoholic beverage “for the girls.” He said he had drunk four or five of the beers.
Under oath, Glisson said he did not know what any of his passengers had done or said, except that one of the two young men, Ashton DeLoach, told him that the other, Luke Conley, “shot a bird out the window” at occupants of the other vehicle.
Some said he heard two shots fired and that someone in the truck shouted “Get down!,” which he did before turning around and seeing Hutcheson slumped onto the other girl.
“I’m absolutely positive,” Gilsson said when an attorney asked if he was sure he hadn’t tried to run anybody of the road.
Referencing notes from the police investigation, Kreun said a single bullet hole was found in the middle of the back glass of the truck when it was searched and photographed by police.
Takes the Fifth
Conley, who was arrested by police on a misdemeanor obstruction charge – for inconsistencies in his story, Kreun said – before police identified Wilson as the suspect, was also called to the stand Monday. But, with the obstruction charge still pending in Bulloch County State Court, Conley brought his own attorney with him and answered, “I plead the right to the Fifth Amendment,” to almost every question put to him by Wilson’s attorneys.
Kreun’s testimony revealed that survivors from the pickup truck at first identified a young woman they knew and had seen when they stopped for a restroom break at the Parker’s convenience store on Brampton Road as an occupant of the vehicle from which the shots were fired. But police determined this was a different vehicle and that the young woman was not involved.
Wilson became a suspect after Rigdon, on seeing news reports of Hutcheson’s death, became upset and told someone who called police. Police then called Wilson’s parents in Coweta County that Tuesday, and he returned to Statesboro and surrendered to face charges Wednesday, June 17, and has been in jail ever since.
Sought lesser charge
Another of Wilson’s attorneys, Martha Hall, addressed the judge at the end of the preliminary hearing to ask that he instead send forward a charge of reckless conduct causing bodily harm. But he ruled that the felony murder and aggravated assault charges should go to the grand jury. He denied bond citing the nature of those charges, but also expressed concern about testimony from Hutcheson’s aunt of threats made against members of their family over social media.