[UPDATE] What Did The Gary Michael Hilton Trial Cost?

UPDATED 2:05pm by Julie Montanaro

Public Defender Nancy Daniels estimates it cost her office $149,000 to defend Gary Michael Hilton.

She says that included several expert witnesses, psychological exams, medical tests, deposition transcripts, and travel costs for witnesses who came from as far away as California and Argentina.

Daniels said, "We did not have to incur any of these costs if the state did not seek the death penalty. From the beginning, Mr. Hilton was willing to enter a plea in exchange for a life sentence."

Daniels said she was surprised that the prosecution proceeded with the death penalty given Hilton's age. "It's highly possible he won't live long enough if the death penalty stays with him all the way through his appeals."

The public defender said, just as the lead prosecutor did, that the attorney hours are not included in the estimate because they are salaried employees.
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April 25, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

Gary Michael Hilton was sentenced to death April 21st and began serving that death sentence one day later.

He is now on death row at Florida State Prison.

Some questioned why the State Attorney pursued the death penalty in Florida given Hilton was already serving a life sentence in Georgia for the murder of hiker Meredith Emerson.

After Thursday's death sentence, State Attorney Willie Meggs called it an appropriate and necessary use of taxpayer money.

"You know, when you kill one person and you get life in prison and then everybody says "Oh, you're just wasting money, well, I can't ... I don't think murders should come cheaper by the dozen," Meggs said.

We are trying to tally the cost of Hilton's trial.

Lead prosecutor Georgia Cappleman says the state attorney's office spent approximately $8,000 to pay for deposition transcripts, expert testimony, a consultation with an entomologist as well as transportion and lodging for witnesses from Georgia.

That estimate does not include the cost of paying prosecutors for the hours they worked, Cappleman said, because they are salaried employees.

We are trying to reach the Public Defender for an estimate as well, but its bill is definitely higher.

We know that one of its expert witnesses was paid 9-thousand dollars for her testimony. Adina Schwartz, an expert in toolmark literature, testified to her costs on the stand during the trial.

We are also trying to estimate the cost of incarcerating Hilton in Florida.

A Spokesman with the Leon County Sheriff's Office says it costs $64.61 per day to house an inmate at the Leon County Jail, not including any medical costs. According to court records, Hilton spent 1050 days in the Leon County Jail while awaiting trial and sentencing. That's a total of $67,840.50

A Florida Department of Corrections Spokeswoman says there are too many variables to provide an estimate of the cost of housing Hilton on death row.


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