A jury trial for William Marcus “Marc” Wilson, charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the June 2020 shooting death of Haley Hutcheson, is now slated for June 27–July 1, 2022, in Bulloch County Superior Court.
After originally scheduling the trial to begin Monday, April 18, Superior Court Judge Ronald K. “Ronnie” Thompson postponed it with an order issued April 1 setting the new dates. His order stated that this was necessary “due to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation having not provided a ballistics report.” The Statesboro Herald has learned that a report has since been received, but prosecutors and defense attorneys would need time to review it.
Back on March 16, Thompson convened a hearing at the Bulloch County Judicial Annex to handle scheduling matters and give attorneys an opportunity to discuss a possible plea deal with Wilson and members of Hutcheson’s family.
No plea was forthcoming, and the judge said then that he still very much wanted to hold the trial this week.
“But the defendant has the right to a fair trial,” Thompson said March 16 in open court. “So, if all the information, the data, is not in, and all the stuff we need for a fair trial, the court may have no other option than to continue the case for at least 30 days, or 60 days if I need to.”
He had also noted specifically the absence of the GBI ballistics report at that time.
Wilson, now 23, has been free until trial since March 4 on a conditional, $100,000 bond under “house arrest.” He must wear an ankle monitor, and — except when returning to Bulloch County for court proceedings — remain within a 25-mile radius of his family’s home in another region of Georgia. He is also required to avoid social media and any contact with Hutcheson’s family and potential witnesses.
Previously denied bond by another judge, Wilson spent more than 20 months in the Bulloch County Jail after turning himself in three days after Hutcheson’s death.
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 Sunday, June 14, 2020, one bullet struck Hutcheson, 17, in the back of the head, according to previous testimony. At the time she was riding with four other teenagers from Claxton in a crew-cab Chevrolet Silverado pickup.
Wilson’s defense attorneys have asserted that Wilson, who is biracial, and his then-girlfriend, Emma Rigdon, who is white, were subjected to racist aggression by occupants of the truck, including attempts to run Wilson’s car off the road.
That was the basis of his previous request for immunity from prosecution under Georgia’s “stand your ground” law. Thompson denied that request March 4 but noted that this did not bar the use of a self-defense argument at trial.
“Marc Wilson continues to maintain his use of force was justified under Georgia law,” his lead attorney, Francys Johnson, said Monday.
Simple declarations of Wilson’s innocence by the defense are one of the exceptions to a still standing gag order issued by the previous judge. So are indications from court officials or attorneys about the scheduling of court proceedings.
Thompson noted March 16 that 400 jurors had been summoned for the trial then slated to begin this week. After Thompson rescheduled the trial, Bulloch County Clerk of Courts Heather Banks McNeal said this week’s jurors were being reassigned to two other cases.
But those cases were also resolved without a trial. So the clerk’s office sent letters to the remaining potential jurors last week releasing them from Monday’s selection after others had been excused prior to the cancellation or their summonses returned as undeliverable, McNeal said Monday.