A preliminary and bond hearing for William Marcus “Marc” Wilson, 21, charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the June 14 shooting death of Haley Hutcheson, 17, has been rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Bulloch County Superior Court.
Judge Michael T. Muldrew, who is again scheduled to preside, postponed the hearing July 7 after attorneys for Wilson requested a continuance. That day, one witness was kept out of the Bulloch County Judicial Annex after showing an elevated body temperature at the door, and another witness reportedly learned he or she had tested positive for COVID-19 after entering the building. Afterward, Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Gates Peed ordered the Judicial Annex closed for two and half days for cleaning and disinfection.
Also July 7, Muldrew issued a gag order, officially an “order restricting extrajudicial statements.” It forbids attorneys and witnesses for both sides, as well as court and law enforcement officials and any state employees involved in the investigation, from making any statements about on the case to news media or the public beyond referring to public records of the court without further comment and providing court scheduling information. A specific exemption also permits “announcing without further comment that the accused denies the charges made against him.”
“William ‘Marc’ Wilson maintains his innocence of the charges of Felony Murder and Aggravated Assault,” states a notice posted online Friday by attorney Francys Johnson’s law firm, which is based in Statesboro.
Johnson, who filed the motions for a new hearing, is first-listed of a defense team that includes four other attorneys, from Decatur, Springfield and Atlanta.
Warrants on file
Hutcheson, a Claxton High School student whose hometown has sometimes been stated as Bellville, died after being shot while riding in a pickup truck with several other young people on Veterans Memorial Parkway near Fair Road before 1 a.m. June 14. Wilson allegedly fired the shot.
One of two warrants the Statesboro Police Department obtained for his arrest, now a public record of the court, asserts: “William Marcus Wilson did commit the offense of Aggravated Assault when he did unlawfully use a handgun to assault Haley L. Hutcheson, causing Hutcheson’s death with a gunshot wound to the back of her head.”
The other warrant asserts that Wilson committed “the offense of Murder when, in the commission of a felony (Aggravated Assault), he did cause the death of Haley L. Hutcheson.” That warrant also states that he fired “a handgun from a moving vehicle into another moving vehicle” and repeats the stated location of the wound.
Murder is always a felony-level charge, but in Georgia, “felony murder” refers to the crime of causing someone’s death while committing another felony.
In an online press conference July 6, the day before the gag order, members of Wilson’s legal team asserted that he acted in defense of himself and his girlfriend after individuals in the truck shouted racial slurs at them and the driver attempted to run them off the road. Wilson is biracial, while the girlfriend who was with him is white. Hutcheson was white, as reportedly were other occupants of the pickup.
Wilson’s parents, who now live in Sharpsburg but previously were Statesboro-area residents, also took part in that media conference.
It was the second media event related to the case, the other having been hosted by the Statesboro Police Department June 16 with members of Hutcheson’s family, not including her parents, offering forgiveness and pleading for the shooter to surrender and face charges.
But at that point, Wilson had already agreed to turn himself in, and did so the next day, accompanied by Johnson. Bulloch County Magistrate Judge June B. Braswell issued the arrest warrants June 16. Wilson has remained in jail since June 17.
After issuing the gag order, Muldrew near the end of the abortive July 7 hearing further warned attorneys: “You’re not going to try this case in the press or on the courthouse steps, and I will not hesitate to hold any party in contempt that tries to influence any potential jurors by any press conferences or release of information.”