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Florida Supreme Court Takes Up Gary Michael Hilton Death Sentence Appeal

Gary Michael Hilton
Gary Michael Hilton is escorted to a police car after pleading guilty to murdering hiker Meredith Emerson Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008 in Dawsonville, Ga. Emerson was kidnapped while hiking in the north Georgia mountains on New Year's Day 2008. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Florida Supreme Court is weighing whether to uphold a death sentence for Gary Michael Hilton. Hilton was convicted of killing a Crawfordville woman in 2007. He's been convicted of similar crimes in three other states.

Hilton’s crimes were committed in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. He killed at least six people, including Cheryl Dunlap of Crawfordville. Florida was the only state to impose a death sentence. Hilton’s attorney, Robert Morris, claims the serial killer received ineffective counsel at his sentencing hearing:

“There wasn’t a strategy…these people couldn’t even talk with each other," Morris told the court.

But the state’s attorney, Michael Kennett, says none of Hilton’s claims matter, given that the evidence in all cases was so overwhelming.

“Nothing presented at the evidentiary hearing would have made a difference in this case….He hunted people for fun. And he killed them.”

Hilton received four life sentences in North Carolina in 2013. In 2008 he pled guilty to murder and received a life sentence in Georgia. Hilton kidnapped and murdered people while they were hiking in the woods.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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