Gary Hilton Pleads Guilty to Killing NC Hikers in 2007

By: Julie Montanaro; AP Email
By: Julie Montanaro; AP Email

UPDATED 3.27.2012 by Julie Montanaro

Convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton has pleaded guilty to two more murders in North Carolina.

As part of the plea deal, Hilton will spend life in prison with no chance of parole.

Hilton pleaded guilty today to killing John and Irene Bryant in 2007.

Prosecutors say Hilton camped out waiting for victims before he encountered the elderly couple hiking in the Pisgah National Forest.

Hilton is already serving a life sentence in Georgia for kidnapping and killing a hiker there and he is on death row in Florida for the kidnapping and murder of Crawfordville Sunday school teacher Cheryl Dunlap.

Dunlap's cousin, Gloria Tucker, says she was "crushed" that federal authorities in North Carolina did not pursue the death penalty.

Tucker sent this statement:

"I am very disappointed that North Carolina has allowed Gary Michael Hilton to manipulate its judicial system into a plea agreement for a life sentence. That was Hilton's plan in Georgia when he pled guilty to the murder of Meredith Emerson. He hoped that Florida would not pursue a case against him for Sherry's murder. The State of Florida refused to make a deal with him. After receiving the death penalty, his focus was on overturning his conviction or challenging the validity of his sentence. His appeal has been forwarded to the Florida Supreme Court and is designed to make the judge and the proceedings appear foolish.
I am sure that many people will feel this deal with North Carolina will save the taxpayers a lot of money. However, Hilton has been allowed to manipulate the justice system too many times. My only hope is that Florida will not allow this monster to continue with his plans and will permanently end any threat to potential victims by carrying out the death penalty."

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - March 27, 2012 -

A man convicted of murder in Florida and Georgia is accepting a life prison sentence without parole after pleading guilty in North Carolina to ambushing and killing an elderly couple hiking in a national forest.

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins says 65-year-old Gary Michael Hilton pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing John and Irene Bryant in 2007.

Prosecutors say Hilton camped out waiting for victims before he encountered the couple who were both in their 80s as they hiked in the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County.

Hilton already is on death row in Florida and has a life prison sentence for murder in Georgia. Both of those female victims were beheaded.

The bodies of the four victims were found over a span of several months starting in late 2007.


UPDATED 12.22.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Gary Michael Hilton's trial has been delayed again.

He was set to stand trial January 4th for the murders of John and Irene Bryant.

His trial is now scheduled to begin February 27, 2012.
UPDATED 10.24.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Gary Michael Hilton will not stand trial next week in the murders of elderly hikers John and Irene Bryant.

The trial has been re-set for January 4, 2012.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Carolina says prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty but that request is still being reviewed by the Department of Justice.

UPDATED 7.25.2011 3:45pm by Julie Montanaro

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Western District of North Carolina says as it stands now, Hilton will remain in North Carolina until federal court proceedings there are complete.

UPDATED 7.25.2011 12:05 (WSPA by Rich Klindworth)

Asheville, NC --

The man accused of killing a Henderson County couple pleads not guilty this morning in federal court.

Convicted murderer Gary Hilton appeared in the U.S. District Court in Asheville to make the plea. He was brought to Buncombe County from Florida.

He's facing five counts including the charges for murdering John and Irene Bryant back in 2007.

Hilton has already been convicted of killing a woman in Georgia and was given the death penalty for murdering a woman in Florida.

His initial trial date is set for September 6th.

The United States Attorney says they will seek the death penalty.


A convicted killer already facing the death penalty in Florida is due in an Asheville courthouse to face charges of killing two hikers in a national forest.

Gary Michael Hilton is scheduled to make an initial appearance
Monday in federal court. Typically, such appearances involve
defendants hearing the charges against them and the potential
punishments they face.

Hilton was indicted last month on charges of kidnapping, robbery
and murder in the deaths of John and Irene Bryant of
Hendersonville. Prosecutors say Hilton killed the retired couple as
they were hiking in the Pisgah National Forest.

The 65-year-old drifter has been convicted of murders in Georgia
and Florida, where he's currently on death row. Federal prosecutors
in North Carolina are also seeking the death penalty.


UPDATED July 8, 2011 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro

Federal court records indicate Gary Michael Hilton will appear in federal court in Asheville, North Carolina on July 25th at 9:30am.

He will then be returned to Florida immediately following the hearing.
July 8, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

Convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton will soon be headed to North Carolina to face murder charges there.

Hilton was indicted last month for the murders of John and Irene Bryant. They were abducted and killed in the Pisgah National Forest back in October 2007.

Florida's Department of Corrections confirms a transport order for Hilton has been signed, but the details of when he'll be moved remain secret for security reasons.

A DOC spokeswoman says she could not confirm whether Hilton had already been moved, is in the process of being moved or will be moved in the near future. His DOC inmate flyer posted on line still indicates Hilton is in custody on death row.

Hilton is on death row for the murder of Crawfordville Sunday school teacher Cheryl Dunlap. She was abducted and killed in December 2007. He is also serving a life sentence for the murder of Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson.

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