[UPDATE] Gary Michael Hilton Transferred to Death Row

UPDATED 5.12.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Gary Michael Hilton's new mug shot has finally been posted on the Department of Corrections web site.

A DOC Spokeswoman says Hilton's photo was taken when he was being processed at the Reception and Medical Center back on April 22nd, but the center was having trouble downloading the photo.

UPDATED 4.22.2011 2:30pm by Julie Montanaro

A DOC Spokeswoman says Gary Hilton has just been booked into Florida State Prison.
UPDATE 4.22.2011 10:30am by Julie Montanaro

Less than 24 hours after his death sentence was imposed, Gary Michael Hilton is already in Department of Corrections custody.

Court records show and the Leon County Sheriff's Office confirms that Hilton was released from the Leon County Jail at 5:31am Friday morning.

Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plesinger says Hilton is currently being documented and evaluated at the DOC's Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler. He arrived there at 7:15 this morning, Plesinger said, and will be transferred to death row later today or possibly tomorrow.

UPDATE 4.21.2011 6:55pm by Julie Montanaro

Convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton is now headed to death row for the murder of Crawfordville Sunday School teacher Cheryl Dunlap.

That death sentence wasn't a surprise. It came on the heels of a unanimous jury recommendation, but the speed with which the judge imposed it certainly was a surprise.

"Accordingly it is ordered and adjudged that you, Gary Michael Hilton, be sentenced to death for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap," Circuit Judge James Hankinson said.

Gary Hilton stood expressionless in handcuffs, chains and jailhouse blues as he was sentenced to die for the kidnapping and murder of Cheryl Dunlap.

It took the judge just six minutes to send Hilton to death row.

"May God have mercy on your soul," Hankinson said as Hilton was led away to be fingerprinted.

"All along I've known that's what the judge was going to do because I knew he was going to do what was right, but I am just so happy he'll never be able to hurt anyone else ever again," said Cheryl Dunlap's cousin Gloria Tucker.

Dunlap was kidnapped from Leon Sinks back in December 2007, her headless, handless body was found in the Apalachicola National Forest two weeks later and the trail of clues, including case-clinching DNA, pointed to drifter Gary Michael Hilton.

"This man shows absolutely no remorse. He's a very cold, calculating person," said Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell after the sentencing. "He comes shuffling into court like he's some poor little old grandfather and he's not. He's a damned monster."

"People who didn't know Cheryl don't know what we've lost, what we've had taken from us and after all this time, it's still as bad as it was, but it's a relief to know that he'll be put away and he can't do this to anyone else's child," said Dunlap's aunt Emma Blount.

"Cheryl was completely, totally committed to God so I know she's in Heaven, I know that. And I do know that when Mr. Hilton dies, he will go to Hell. I know that. I know that," Blount said.

Gary Hilton has 30 days to file an appeal and is entitled to an automatic review from the Florida Supreme Court.

The appeals can take years, but the average person waits on Florida's death row for 12 years before being executed.

According to a Department of Corrections Spokeswoman, here's what Gary Michael Hilton can expect on death row:

A 6 by 9 cell, three meals a day, a shower every other day and exercise in the prison yard twice a week.

He can have weekend visitors like everyone else and he can buy a color tv from the prison canteen if he so chooses.

Hilton will be wearing an orange jersey while on death row. That's how the folks at Union Correctional and Florida State Prison distinguish death row inmates from everyone else.

Wakulla County, Florida April 21, 2011 4:49pm by Jill Chandler

Emotions were running high as word quickly spread across Wakulla County. Not everyone knew Cheryl Dunlap, but everyone in Wakulla had an opinion of Thursday's sentencing.

The murder of Cheryl Dunlap shook the Wakulla community. Residents said Gary Michael Hilton's death sentence is more than appropriate.

David Parker said, "Anybody that takes somebody else's life-- they forfeit their life.... especially in such a evil way."

"It's a shame that all he has to be is executed," said Joe Hope.

And those who had the privilege of knowing Dunlap, say even the death sentence won't make it right.

Cheryl Dunlap used to care for Daisy Simpkins father. Simpkins holds her in the highest regard. Simpkins said, "Outstanding citizen, loving mother, friend... was taken away from this community by a senseless crime."

But some think, the Death Penalty isn't enough for what Cheryl had to endure.

"Well, they could torture him first and then kill him," said Ed Bass.

Burt West said, "I think that the appropriate punishment would be unspeakable to a civilized society."

WCTV spoke to Sheriff David Harvey today he called Hilton a monster, and says since Cheryl Dunlap's abduction and murder thousands of women have gone through firearms and self defense courses in Wakulla county.

View Live streaming of the Hilton trial here.

[UPDATE] 4-21 Noon - by Julie Montanaro

"It is ordered and judged that you Gary Michael Hilton be sentenced to death for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap. This sentence is subject to automatic review by the Florida Supreme Court. May God have mercy on your soul," the judge tells Hilton.

Convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton is sentenced to die for the murder of Crawfordville Sunday school teacher Cheryl Dunlap.

That hearing took just minutes; six minutes, to be exact. The judge walked in at 10:02 and walked out at 10:08. That's all the time it took to send Gary Michael Hilton to death row.

Hilton stood in chains, handcuffs and jailhouse blues as Judge James Hankinson announced his sentence . In February, a jury unanimously recommended Hilton be put to death for the 2007 kidnapping and murder of Cheryl Dunlap, and today the judge didn't waste any time in following its lead.

"Cheryl was completely, totally committed to God so I know she's in Heaven, I know that. And I do know that when Mr. Hilton dies, he will go to Hell. I know that. I know that," says Emma Blount, Dunlap's aunt.

Dunlap's aunt and cousin were in the courtroom this morning as were the Sheriff's of both Leon and Wakulla County.

Sheriff Campbell says, "Hilton comes shuffling into court like he's some poor old grandfather. He's not, he's a monster."

Hilton has 30 days to file an appeal and he's entitled to an automatic review by the Florida Supreme Court. In the meantime, Hilton will be sitting on Death Row.

The appeals can take years. The average person spends 12 years on death row in Florida before he's executed and Hilton is not a young man. He's 64, so there's no guarantee he'll live that long.


April 21, 2011 - 10:05am -

Gary Michael Hilton sentenced to death.

The sentencing is over, but you can still chat about the trial with others at the link below.


April 21, 2011 - 9:45am -

Gary Hilton is set to be sentenced in just a few minutes. Cheryl Dunlap's cousin and aunt are in the courtroom and so are the sheriffs of both Leon and Wakulla County.

Gary Hilton was led into the courtroom in chains, handcuffs and prison blues.

There are more than a half dozen uniformed and plain clothes deputies circling the courtroom.


April 21, 2011 -

In February the jury unanimously recommended the death penalty for Gary Michael Hilton. Hilton was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Crawfordville native Cheryl Dunlap in December of 2007. Earlier this month, Dunlap's loved ones gave impact statements before the court. State Attorney Willie Meggs asked the judge again to follow the jury's recommendation of the death penalty. The defense is asking for a life sentence.

WCTV will have live coverage from the courtroom as the judge reads Hilton's sentence a little later this morning. Tune in to WCTV or visit our website WCTV.tv and click on the link to the Live stream of the Gary Michael Hilton sentencing on our homepage. The sentencing is set for 10:00 a.m.

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