By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Marc Wilson trial continues with autopsy and toxicology reports, expert witnesses
Homicide victim Hutcheson wasn’t drunk, but other other teens in truck with her were never tested
The defense team and prosecutors huddle with Superior Court Judge Ronald K. ÒRonnieÓ Thompson, center, as he decides and the admissibility of a video as evidence for the defense as William Marcus Wilson's felony murder trial related to the death of
The defense team and prosecutors huddle with Superior Court Judge Ronald K. Thompson, center, as he decides and the admissibility of a video as evidence for the defense as William Marcus Wilson's felony murder trial related to the death of Haley Hutcheson continues on Thursday, Aug.25. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Haley Hutcheson, 17, had a small amount of alcohol in her bloodstream the night she died, but so little that she would not have been intoxicated, a toxicologist testified Thursday in the murder trial of William Marcus “Marc” Wilson.

But investigators never ordered blood alcohol tests on the four surviving young people who were in the pickup with Hutcheson, including the driver, who has made varying statements about how much he had to drink.

Thursday was the second day – or the fourth if the two days of jury selection counted – of Wilson’s trial in Bulloch County Superior Court for a charge of felony murder for Hutcheson’s death, five charges of aggravated assault for shooting at her and the truck’s other occupants and one charge of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony. Chief Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black continued to lay out the prosecution’s case, with the autopsy report and series of expert witnesses. Wilson’s defense attorneys cross-examined those witnesses and pointed out things Statesboro police and the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office didn’t do by way of exploring other possibilities.

Thursday’s first testimony was actually continuation of the questioning of Wednesday’s last witness, Mason Glisson, now 20, of Claxton. He was 18 when the shooting occurred on the night of June 13-14, 2020, as he drove the other then-teenagers around Veterans Memorial Parkway in his loud, lift kit-equipped four-door Chevrolet pickup.

He and the two young men in the truck, Ashton Deloach and Luke Conley, all friends, had picked up the two young women, Hutcheson and Macie Neagley, whom Glisson and Deloach have testified they barely knew, at Massey Oil Company in Hagan, the town adjoining Claxton. All underage, they stopped at a convenience store on the way to Statesboro to buy beer, and according to testimony had a 12-pack of Michelob Ultra Infusion with them and some containers of another fermented beverage. They traveled as far as another young woman’s home at Hopeulikit and visited the Parker’s convenience store on the bypass for the women to have restroom access before driving down Statesboro’s Northside Drive East in search of a late-evening meal. 

But in that pandemic summer they found the McDonald’s closed and the Waffle House only serving to-go, so they headed back toward Claxton, turning right onto the bypass.  It was then, around 1 a.m. Sunday, June 14, 2020, that they had the encounter that turned deadly with Wilson, who was driving a Ford Focus accompanied by his then-girlfriend Emma Rigdon and her little dog, on their way back to Rigdon’s apartment from Taco Bell.

 

Driver’s beers

When asked Wednesday, under direct examination by Black for the prosecution, how many beers he drank that evening and night, Glisson gave an indefinite response.

“At least two or three,” he said. “I’m not totally sure how many I had.”

Glisson also said that he had not been intoxicated, and repeated that under cross-examination by one of Wilson’s defense attorneys, Mawuli Davis.

However, Davis confronted Glisson with statements he had made in police interviews and previous hearings in the case extending from June 2020 to spring 2022. In a passage Davis pointed out from the transcript of an Aug. 18, 2020 hearing, Glisson had denied that he was swerving on the road that night and said, “Five or so beers don’t even make me drunk at all.”

Thursday, he explained that he “had max, six beers” over six or seven hours.

Davis had conducted a similar cross-examination of Deloach on Wednesday, but over his statements that he didn’t know if any occupants of the truck had put their hands out the window or “flipped off” occupants of Wilson’s car.

Glisson has never been charged with any legal violation in connection with that night’s events, and none of the truck’s occupants were charged with underage drinking. Statesboro police did charge Conley with misdemeanor obstruction of justice after he allegedly changed his story during the investigation. He has previously asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the Wilson case, and as of Thursday had not been called to the stand in the trial.

At times Wednesday and Thursday a photo of Glisson’s black pickup, sitting in front of East Georgia Regional Medical Center, where he drove Hutcheson after she was shot, lingered on video screens in the courtroom. Other photos showed the truck’s back glass, which had graphics of a bird dog’s head in profile and a flock of ducks, with a hole, the bullet hole, through the dog’s mouth near the center of the glass. An interior photo showed the hole as well as a shatter pattern.

 

Autopsy report

But the pictures that caused some sobbing in the courtroom were those from the autopsy. To present these, Black introduced Dr. Joani Skipper, an associate medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as an expert witness in forensic pathology.

Photos of Hutcheson’s lifeless body showed a red wound Skipper described as “ovoid” on the back-right portion of her head, behind her right ear. An X-ray image showed this entry wound and where the bullet was recovered, inside the left front portion of her head, having passed through her brain, as Skipper testified.

082522_WILSON_TRIAL_01.jpg
Haley Hutcheson's father, Dusty Hutcheson, keeps his head down and bible close while wife Allison keeps a tissue close as GBI Forensic Pathologist Joni Skipper testifies about Haley's death as William Marcus ÒMarcÓ Wilson's felony murder trial related to the death of Haley Hutcheson continues on Thursday, Aug.25. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

She said that speckled injuries that appeared on Hutcheson’s head and arms could have been caused by shattered glass.

“The manner of death, in this case, is homicide,” Skipper said when Black asked.

But when Nefertara Clark, another of Wilson’s attorneys, cross-examined her, Skipper clarified that “homicide” to a forensic pathologist is a medical term, not a legal one, and means only that the death was caused  by another person.

The bullet itself was introduced into evidence Thursday, as was Wilson’s Taurus 9mm pistol, which he and his lead defense attorney, Francys Johnson, surrendered to police when Wilson turned himself in on June 17, 2020.

 

‘Little to no effect’

It was another prosecution expert witness, GBI forensic toxicologist Carla Turner, who testified that Hutcheson’s postmortem blood alcohol level was 0.02 grams per 100 milliliters, to an accuracy level of plus or minus 0.001.

“I would expect it to have very little to no effect on someone,” Turner said.  She agreed with Black that this meant Hutcheson was not intoxicated.

The only other drugs in her system were one probably administered during the unsuccessful lifesaving measures at the hospital and an “unreportable” level of the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen, Turner reported.

When Clark asked, Turner said that to her knowledge she was never asked to test blood samples from the other occupants of the truck. Two Statesboro police detectives also acknowledged, in testimony Thursday, that they never ordered toxicology tests on Glisson and the three surviving passengers.

In nothing heard the first two days of the trial or in previous hearings has anyone denied that Wilson fired his pistol as many as five times that night or testified that Hutcheson, who was 17, personally did or said anything toward him.

But Wilson, now 23, who is biracial, is asserting through his defense attorneys that he was defending himself and Rigdon, who is white, from a racist attack, including shouting of slurs, throwing of beer cans and aggressive driving, by occupants of the truck.

The prosecution had yet to rest its case Thursday, and the trial was set to resume 8 a.m. Friday.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter