Gary Hilton Trial Delayed


ASHEVILLE — With more than a half million documents available for review by attorneys for serial killer Gary Michael Hilton, a judge has again delayed the trial to give them more time to prepare.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Reidinger set a hearing date of Feb. 27, according to court documents filed this week. Hilton’s next court appearance had been set for Jan. 4.

The court filings also indicate the possibility of a plea deal with federal prosecutors in the kidnapping and killing of a Henderson County couple.

“Counsel has been diligently reviewing and indexing all documents in this matter, as well as conducting plea negotiations in this matter,” attorney Joseph VonKallist wrote. “Counsel does not believe that review of the discovery and further plea negotiations can be realistically conducted before the start of the upcoming criminal term.”

Hilton, 65, was charged in July with the slayings of John and Irene Bryant, who disappeared while hiking in the Pink Beds area of Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County on Oct. 21, 2007.

Prosecutors have filed court papers indicating they plan to seek the death penalty. The trial is to be held in federal court in Asheville.

VonKallist said he has obtained more than 250 CDs and 44,000 pages of text related to the case against Hilton.

“Counsel has been given access to an additional 500,000 documents prepared and gathered by the prior defense team who represented Mr. Hilton in Florida,” he said in the request for a continuance.

Hilton has already been sentenced to death in Florida for the murder of a nurse out for a hike in that state, and he was sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of a hiker in Georgia. Authorities said those cases have similarities to the killings of the Bryants.

Searchers found the body of Irene Bryant, 84, near a trail off Yellow Gap Road in the national forest north of Brevard. She died of multiple blows to the head and had her right forearm severed, according to an autopsy.

Someone used the Bryants ATM card in Ducktown, Tenn., the day after she was killed.

The skeletal remains of John Bryant, 80, were later found by a hunter about 30 yards down a bank off a U.S. Forest Service road near Franklin. An autopsy determined that he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

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  1. Imagine having half million documents written about you? I can be pretty much summed up in one word LOON.

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