[UPDATE] Sentencing Set for Gary Michael Hilton

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UPDATED 3.7.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Gary Michael Hilton will be sentenced on April 21st at 10am.

A jury has unanimously recommended a death sentence, but it will ultimately be up to Judge James Hankinson to decide.

Both sides will have one final chance to present evidence, including victim impact statements, on April 7th.
UDPATED 2.28.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Family and friends of slain Sunday School teacher Cheryl Dunlap will have a chance to speak to the judge before convicted killer Gary Hilton is sentenced.

Attorneys in the case have set what's called a Spencer hearing for 9am on April 7th. That will allow both prosecutors and defense attorneys to present any other evidence they want the judge to consider before Hilton is sentenced.

A jury unanimously recommended a death sentence for Hilton last week for kidnapping and killing Dunlap back in December 2007. The judge will utlimately decide Hilton's sentence, but must give the jury recommendation great weight.

Prosecutors intend to present victim impact statements that day. Some victims will speak in person, others have sent letters to the judge.

There is no word yet on when the judge will actually sentence Hilton, but it could be within days of the April 7th hearing.

UPDATED 2-22-2011 6pm by Jerry Askin

A jury unanimously votes for Gary Michael Hilton to receive the Death penalty for the 2007 kidnapping and killing of Cheryl Dunlap.

Eyewitness News Reporter Jerry Askin spoke with folks from her hometown of Crawfordville today as they too try to move on from the past two weeks.

Many folks in Wakulla County are pleased with the jury's decision to recommend Gary Michael Hilton to receive the death penalty.

Ed Bass of Wakulla County says, "I think they're taking to long in killing him. They ought to kill him."

Linda Alexander who also lives in Wakulla County says, "I am very very thankful that we had a jury that brought in the correct verdict."

Hilton is convicted in the December 2007 kidnapping and murder of Crawfordville Sunday School teahcer Cheryl Dunlap.

Many residents in Dunlap's hometown say the jury's unanimous vote was a smart decision for the greusome crime he committed.

Wakulla County resident Galveston Alexander says, "They made the right decision by giving him the death penalty, we don't know how many other people he has killed and probably never will, and there's no reason for rehabilitation for somebody like that."

Many folks in Wakulla county say they are glad this long trial has come to an end - and they are hoping the juror's decision will help bring some closure for the family.

Tara Sanders of Wakulla County says, "I'm glad that they're closure for the family and for the Wakulla County Residents, but it won't bring Cheryl back."

"The suffering that family had to go through, I don't think there is anything else he should have gotten besides the death penalty" says Joe Bass of Wakulla County.

The judge will still have to make his official sentencing for Gary Michael Hilton. That date has still not been set. Stay tuned to WCTV for the latest.
UPDATED 2.22.2011 5pm by Julie Montanaro

A jury recommended the death penalty for Gary Hilton and a judge will sentence him perhaps as early as two weeks from now.

The jury recommended the death sentence in a unanimous vote Monday after just an hour and 15 minutes of deliberation.

By law, the judge will actually decide Hilton's sentence, but must give the jury recommendation great weight.

An FSU law professor calls the unanimous verdict "astounding" and says it's likely to stick.

"It's uncommon for the judge to go against the jury recommendation. In this case, the jury recommendation was unanimous, so one might expect it to be particularly unusual for the judge to override that,"
said FSU Criminal Law professor Reid Fontaine.

Attorneys have not yet agreed on a sentencing date for Hilton.
UPDATED 2.21.2011 7:20pm by Julie Montanaro

The jury took three and a half hours to find Gary Hilton guilty of the 2007 kidnapping and murder of Cheryl Dunlap, but just an hour and 15 minutes to decide he should be sentenced to death for it.

The foreperson handed over the verdict form a few minutes after 4pm this afternoon.

"State of Florida versus Gary Michael Hilton. A majority of the jury by a vote of 12 to nothing advise and recommend to the court that it impose the death penalty on Gary Michael Hilton, so say we all," read Circuit Judge James Hankinson.

The unanimous verdict stunned the courtroom.

"We are extremely pleased with the death verdict and even more so that it was unanimous. Obviously the jury saw what needed to be done to bring justice and that's what Mr. Hilton got today and Ms. Dunlap and her family got," said prosecutor Georgia Cappleman as she left the courtroom.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said he was surprised by the unanimous verdict, but said if there were ever a case for it, this was it. And he thanked law enforcement agents in two states for all they did to help bring this case to court.

"Words cannot describe what those folks did to get this case to this point," Meggs said. "They dug up the National Forest. They stopped every black truck in Leon County, some of them four and five times.The recovered evidence. They crawled in dumpsters and those folks deserve a lot of credit."

It's been more than three years since Crawfordville Sunday School teacher and FSU nurse Cheryl Dunlap disappeared.

She would be found murdered and dismembered two weeks later.

Her cousin, Gloria Tucker, has been in court every day to hear the testimony and was literally doing fist pumps as she left the courtroom.

"I think it's extremely important to me because I feel that he's deserving of death. He's tortured and tormented his victims and who knows how many of them there were, but he needs to know now that he's going to face death. It may take years, but all those years he's going to know just like his victims knew before they died.that he's going to die," Tucker said.

"And you've sat through more than two weeks of testimony, heard almost every word, what is it like to go through this process and finally reach a conclusion after three years?"

"I don't think there's really a conclusion, conclusion until he's totally gone, out of the picture, but it feels really good. I could fist pump and fist pump. It feels really good. So, I'm happy," Tucker said.

"Any indication of what this would mean for Cheryl Dunlap?"

"You know, Sherry was such a loving person that I don't know if she would want his death. She always looked for the good in every single person, um, I'm not sure she would be as happy as we are, but, it's good. It's good that he won't be able to hurt anybody," Tucker said.

We'll hear more from Dunlap's cousin, best friend and one of the alternate jurors in the case tonight on Eyewitness News at 11.

In Florida, a jury makes a life or death recommendation, but the judge is the one who must ultimately make the decision and impose the sentence.

A sentencing date hasn't been set yet.

It is rare for a judge to depart from a jury's recommendation.
Feb 21 4:21pm

Hilton Sentencing: Jury determines unanimously that Gary Michael Hilton should face the death penalty.


Feb 21 2:50pm

The jury is now deliberating.

Feb 2:12pm

Defense Attorney Friedman took the podium to plea Hilton's case.

Friedman noted three major things that he thinks lead to the murder: (perfect storm, gasoline on the fire)
1) Traumatic Brain injury
2) Abusive history
3) Improperly prescribed mediation

Friedman tells the jury they have heard testimony that backed up each of these multiple times. The defense says a key factor is Hilton's emotional instability coupled with emotional abuse.

Freidman blames Hilton's doctor for prescribing Ritalin and blames Hilton's irritability, rage and homicidal affiliations. "Hilton's actions didn't go down until 2005," Freidman says.

Friedman is recapping and summarizing all of the defenses testimonies:

- Dr Woo and the PET scan.

- Dr Golden and the test that he performed, at one point show Hilton at an IQ only 10% of the population has, and in another test he says Hilton thinks like an 8 or 9 year old.

- Dr Strauss who spoke about schizoaffective disorder. In Strauss' opinion Hilton's disordered existed for a long time and the medications put Hilton over the edge.

- Another doctor who spoke about the medications given to Hilton and how Hilton's disorders reacted to the medications.

Friedman says about Hilton, "No one gave him a sense of love at anytime in his life."

Friedman went through a timeline of events in Hilton's life that he thinks support the testimonies from the witnesses who took the stand.

"On behalf of Mr. Hilton, I'm asking all of you to recommend a life sentence in this case," Friedman says.

The judge says the jurors will be sent back into the jury room with all of the evidence in the penalty phase of the trial.

2:47pm jury begins deliberating.

1:18pm- State begin it's closing statements.

State Attorney Meggs started his closing with a thanks to the jury and his assistance.

"Your duty is to weigh the aggravators and the mitigators." Meggs says, "Use your common sense in doing your duty."

Meggs says there are six aggravators that have been proven beyond every reasonable doubt.

1)Defendant was previously convicted of a felony- Hilton's been convicted of capital murder' in

2)Dunlap was kidnapped

3)Hilton's crime occurred of the purpose to avoid or prevent lawful arrest. Evidence that backs it up: the lengths law enforcement had to go to get Dunlap's DNA. "The defendant cut her head off." says Meggs, "We don't have any teeth." Meggs quoted Hilton, "If you take them, you have to kill them or you get caught." , "I have to go do something with this."

4)The crime was committed for financial gain. Evidence: Hilton used Dunlap's cards.

5) It was a heinous atrocious crime. Meggs says it was a wicked vial, outrageously vial crime and suggests Dunlap knew that her demise was coming. Medical experts say there was a deep bruise in her body. State suggests Dunlap was alive and lived in fear that she was going to die in the wood in the van with a "psycho path". Meggs says Dunlap was chained around the neck so she couldn't escape from the van. Meggs says Dunlap knew she was going to die and there was nothing she could do about it.

6) The murder was committed in a cold calculated premeditated manor. Meggs quoted Hilton's recordings" Once you take them you've got to kill them or you'll get caught." Meggs says "That's thinking about in advance." Meggs quoted Hilton and said "I agree with you, it's cruel, there's not other solution.", "This shit just got me caught."," When you go out to kill and you're seen you're screwed."," I'm out of money, I'm going to have to kill somebody.", "They fight, and then they submit."," work your abductor, work the psychopath."

Meggs says there are three mitigators: but above all Meggs says the defenses own experts conflict each other.

Meggs says Woo was wrong about consciousness and his diagnosis.

Meggs says during Golden's testimony Golden says Hilton had a very high IQ, but was wrong on the unconsciousness.

Meggs says Abbey Strauss testified Hilton had a schizoaffective disorder because of bad childhood, Ritalin, and he was hit in the head.

Meggs tells the jury the defense would have to blame everybody but Gary Michael Hilton and says the experts were fooled by Hilton

Meggs then when thought their 'non- expert' testimonies
State submits to the jury Cleo Dabag was a good mom doing the best she could.

Meggs says a lot of the other testimonies didn't mean anything.

Meggs went through each testimony.

Meggs submits the mitigators are not strong.

Meggs closed by saying, "We're all depending on you, I'm going to ask each one of you vote to recommend that Gary Hilton be put to death."


Feb 21 1:15pm

The judge says jurors must decide if Gary Hilton deserves a life sentence without the possibility of parole or a death sentence.

He told jurors to consider possible aggravating circumstances including whether Hilton committed the crime for financial gain, whether the crime was cold, calculated and premeditated and whether the crime was particularly heinous, atrocious or cruel. He said they could not consider Dunlap's dismemberment after her death as the only factor in deciding whether it was heinous, atrocious or cruel.

He also told the jurors to consider mitigating circumstances too, including whether Hilton had the capacity to understand the criminality of his behavior, and whether he was under the influence of any psychiatric disturbance at the time.

He told the jury that it takes a majority vote to recommend the death penalty.


Feb 21 1pm

The judge has locked the doors so jurors will not be distracted during jury instructions and final arguments from attorneys.

The judge told the jury that its verdict will be "advisory" and that it will ultimately be up to him to sentence Hilton.

However, he says under Florida law he must give their decision great weight.

He said jurors cannot infer anything from Gary Hilton's decision not to testify.

Attorneys will begin their closing arguments shortly.


Feb 21 11:40am

Dr. Greg Pritchard admitted on cross examination that he never directly interviewed Hilton or conducted any tests on him. He says he was scheduled to do so, but was told he could not.

"Isn't that because the state didn't follow the rules?" Defense attorney Robert Friedman asked.

Pritchard said he did not know. He testified that he based his assessments of Hilton on his medical records and from interviews done with Hilton's mother, ex-wife and former boss as well as taped interviews with Hilton himself.

Pritchard says in his opinion Hilton was abusing Ritalin at the time of the murders and "who knows what other street drugs he was using."

Dr. Pritchard says he did complete a psychopath checklist for Gary Hilton.
It includes 20 different indicators including the "gift of gab," narcissism and callousness.

He says Hilton scored a 32.6 on a scale of 40 and is a classic psychopath. He points out that usually these scores are higher when a psychologist actually gets to meet with the person, which he said he was not able to do in Hilton's case. So had I had a chance to meet with him, Pritchard said, the score "could have been higher."

He says psychopathy is not a mental illness, it is "absolutely behaviorally driven."


Feb 21 10:30am

The judge denied the defense's motion for a mistrial based on the state's inquiry into Hilton's role in the movie "Deadly Run."

Circuit Judge James Hankinson said the state did appear to violate his previous order barring them from introducing any evidence about it. Yet said it does not warrant a mistrial.

Dr. Pritchard is back on the stand for cross examination.


Feb 21 9:30am --

The family and friends of Cheryl Dunlap may find out today whether convicted killer Gary Hilton will receive the death penalty for her 2007 abduction and murder.

The jury is expected to hear cross examination of the state's psychiatrist first and then hear final arguments from both sides before it begins deliberating.

The defense has moved for a mistrial twice this morning.

First it claimed that the state's clinical psychiatrist improperly commented on the testimony of the other experts. The judge denied that motion saying Dr. Pritchard gave his opinion but did not attack the credibility of the other experts.

Second the defense claimed that the state violated a court order when it questioned defense expert Dr. Joseph Woo about Hilton's involvement in the making of a 1995 movie called "Deadly Run." Prosecutors say Woo brought it up on the stand himself first, saying Hilton was clearly delusional when he claimed to be involved in the movie.

The judge is considering extensive argument on this.


Update by Amy Long

Friday (2-18) was Day 10 of the Gary Michael Hilton Murder trial, with the defense calling in witnesses to try to keep their client off death row. Some who took the stand only saw Hilton for short periods of time and hadn't again until they saw his mug shot on TV or saw him sitting in the courtroom.

Character witness after character witness filed into the courtroom Friday 2-18 .. Most taking the stand for 5 minutes or less to detail the short periods of time they knew Gary Michael Hilton.

Sandy Carr, Hilton's Middle School Girlfriend says, "He was funny outgoing and smart."

Stefanie Durham Hilton was Her Mother's Live-in Boyfriend says, "He did everything that a father, Step-father figure would do. He made sure I ate; he made sure I got to school."

Jurors also listed to a recording of Hilton's now deceased mother who described her son as a "strapping young man" "I want to do everything I can to help him because no mater what, he's my son and I believe this is something that started in September."

Some of her memories of Hilton's childhood even brought a chuckle from the jury box until she revealed Hilton's drug use was a reason she stopped seeing her son. Video and Audio recording of interviews and police encounters recorded from dash cams also filled the room.

The main theme throughout defense witness and expert testimonies centered around Hilton's dark childhood and a bad prescription for Ritalin.

Prosecutors refuted and called clinical psychologist Greg Pritchard to the stand to rattle the defense's case. "Justify the means for a psychopath. If they want something, they're going to go through whatever they need to go through to get to that point which may mean walking over people or walking through people."

Pritchard testified that he didn't agree with many of the Defense's experts and gave the jurors one last thought for the weekend. "He's a psychopath, that's what generated the murders and nothing else."

Pritchard says Hilton was motivated for a plea deal for Meredith Emerson and says it's just like a psychopath to not give any information about Dunlap because there was nothing in it for him.

The case will resume Monday at 10:30am.

UPDATED 2.18.2011 6:30pm by Julie Montanaro

Jurors have been sent home for the night and will return Monday to hear final arguments and begin deliberating in the kidnapping and murder trial of Gary Hilton.

UPDATED 615pm by Julie Montanaro

Defense attorneys are pushing for a life sentence instead of the death penalty and their attempt to give jurors a glimpse into Hilton's life went down in flames before jurors ever saw one picture.

Gary Hilton is now fighting for his life and his defense team had hoped photos from his family album might help.

Baby photos of the now twice convicted killer stretched 100 inches high.

There were school photos and report cards ... a picture of his first dog ... even a picture of him playing the drums.

The judge ruled jurors would never see them. He considers them an attempt to create sympathy among jurors.

"It has no relevance whether he was a cute baby or not. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with what the jury is deciding," Circuit Judge James Hankinson said from the bench.

The judge did allow photos of Hilton in the U.S. Army, as well as photos of Hilton living in storage facilities and being affectionate with a few of his favorite dogs.

But defense attorneys soon abandoned the idea of Hilton's life in pictures because after the judge was done, there weren't many left.

"They, uh, didn't hit it off good," said family friend Thomas Perchoux.

Among those testifying on tape for the defense was Thomas Perchoux. He and his wife took care of Hilton as a teenager after Hilton's mom told them the boy and his new stepfather weren't getting along.

"I don't know if it was jealousy ... or what," he said.

Never once though, he testified, did Hilton's mother or stepfather come to visit him while he was staying at their house even though they lived just a couple of blocks away.

"We heard this woman screaming 'my son, my son' and no one had any air conditioning then, so our windows were open and we all ran out," Victorine Rowe recalled.

Victorine Rowe remembers the day in the early 1950's that the little boy next door got hit on the head by a falling Murphy bed.

"He looked like he'd been scalped," she said.

Rowe said she figured when attorneys came knocking recently that that little boy must be in "some kind of trouble" now, but was clearly surprised when prosecutors asked if she realized just how much trouble.

"So at the time, you had not been informed that Mr. Hilton has been charged with several murders? Is that correct?" asked prosecutor Eddie Evans.

"Oh no," Rowe said. I was just telling them that I remembered the accident happening.

The defense rested its case about 5:30pm.

A rebuttal witness for the prosecution is now on the stand.

Attorneys are expected to deliver their final arguments Monday and deliberations should follow.

We'll continue our live streaming coverage on wctv. tv then.

Update 6:15pm by Amy Long

Pritchard says Hilton was motivated for a plea deal for Meredith Emerson and says it's just like a psychopath to not give any information about Dunlap because there was nothing in it for him.
life long personality and character issues.

Pritchard says "He's a psychopath, that's what generated the murders and nothing else."

Defense will so cross on Monday. Jury asked to be back Monday to start at 10:30am

Jury home for the day at 6:30pm

5:34pm by Amy Long

State rebuttals and calls Dr Greg Pritchard, clinical psychologist to the stand.

Pritchard by the state $200 and hour.

Meggs asked Pritchard his opinion on what the other experts called by the defense had to say about Hilton's mental state and diagnosis.

Pritchard says he does not agree with the fact that Hilton had brain injury from a bed falling on his head.
Does not agree with other experts diagnosis because Hilton would have been hospitalized earlier in life.

Pritchard says Hilton was hospitalized once in the Army and then once again after being arrested for Emerson's murder, Pritchard points out Hilton had 40 years of no hospitalization.

Pritchard says he would agree Hilton has anti social disorder. 75% of people in prison have the same disorder.
Pritchard says there is a difference, Mental illness vs. personality problems... Pritchard says Hilton is a psychopath which gives him the "Gift of gab", he doesn't care if he hurts someone, he's an excellent salesman, he's very self centered.

Pritchard says he look into Hilton history as well and says shooting a step-dad at 14 is not a normal thing. Pritchard points out Hilton was not on Ritalin when he shot his father.

Pritchard read Hilton's Army dismissal papers and they say there was a "conflict of personality", "undesirable character traits" no indication of a mental illness.

Pritchard says he interviewed Hilton's second wife. She told Pritchard she realized Hilton was posing as a charity and was having his wife pick up checks from different business. Hilton's second wife says she had a 9 year old daughter and a son at the time. She says her 9 year old daughter told her Hilton touched her sexually and Hilton admitted it. "yes, I touched her" and "Well they're not my children". Hilton's second wife also says Hilton pulled out his penis and asked the son to touch it.
Update 2-18 5:34 PM by Amy Long

Defense enters photos and the actual Ritalin bottles that were found in a fanny pack into evidence.

Defense rests.

State rebuttal and calls Dr. Greg Pritchard, a clinical psychologist, to the stand.


Many of the defense's witnesses saw Hilton for short periods of time and hadn't seen Hilton again until they saw his mug shot on TV or saw him sitting in the courtroom today.

5:10pm by Amy Long

Defense calls Jinhee Lee in a videotaped interview from Dec 30, 2010..She is a laundromat owner in Georgia

Lee says Hilton was a customer for 3 or 4 years. She says she never knew his name only knew his dogs name.

Lee says Hilton came regularly and then stopped coming and started coming back in 2007. Lee noticed a change in Hilton and asked him if he was okay.

Lee asked about Hilton's dog. The person conducting the interview says Dandy the dog is taken care of up in North Georgia.

Courtroom takes a 10 minute break.

4:56pm by Amy Long

Defense calls Mary King to the stand. King has been employed with the forest service in 2007 and met Hilton in November 2007 at night off Silver Lake Road.

King came across Hilton when he was walking with his dog. She preformed a welfare check, and Hilton accused her of hassling him.

Made a notation in her personal patrol log,signal 20 which indicates a "crazy person."

State cross examines. Meggs asked how many times do you think there have been a signal 20? King says, "many, many, many, times"
Meggs asked if there were any weapons in plain view? King says, "yes, a large knife"

King says she alerted Hilton about his van tag close to expiring and told him he would have to move his campsite out of the woods because hunting season was about to start. Hilton told her he would be leaving soon.

4:50pm by Amy Long

Defense presenting another recording from October 25 2007 which was recorded form a dash cam on a cop car.

Hilton's van can be seen driving down a long road and then being pulled over. Cops in the recording say Hilton was driving all over the road.
Cops ask Hilton to get out of his van and ask if he's been drinking.. Hilton says he was smoking a cigarette and petting his dog.

Cops asked what kind of medications he was on.. Hilton says "all kinds" including Ritalin.

4:46 by Amy Long

Defense calls Scott Gillespie who met Hilton in 2007 while they were camping.

Gillespie says Hilton was sharpening a knife and rocking back and forth sitting on a stone.

4:35pm by Amy Long

Defense plays an interview with OFC Ken from the city of Duluth (was recorded Nov 15, 2010) who had to do the interview by phone because his unit is waiting to be deployed to Afghanistan.

In the recording Ken was asked to recall Feb 25 2006 when he was called to a suspicious person at 7:45 at night.. when he got on scene he saw Hilton with his dog and a white van.

Ken says Hilton was agitated. Says Hilton was acting "out of it" and "unstable."
OFC Ken ran Hilton's tags which came back clear.


Update 4:27 pm by Amy Long

Four witnesses have been called in back-to-back to testify on Hilton's character. Hilton could be seen waving at some of them.

4Defense calls Stefanie Durham. Hilton lived with her and her mother who was Hilton's girlfriend at the time. Hilton lived with them in Georgia for 2 years when she was 13 until she turned 15.

Durham says Hilton was a father figure and, "He did everything a father figure would do. Made sure I ate, made sure I got to the places I needed to go."

Durham says Hilton was a very giving person, fun and funny.Hilton grinned ear to ear when he saw her walk in the courtroom.

4:16pm by Amy Long

Roy Cave called to the stand. He went to high school with Hilton and was a band mate

Cave says, " They played in a band called the Majestic together at night clubs."
Cave and Hilton joined the Army together and separated after boot camp and says he saw Hilton once more in 1966 in Germany.

Meggs- "Did your training cause you to have any kind of 'rage against society'?'" Cave answers "No."

4:11pm by Amy Long

Sandy Carr one of Hilton's former girlfriends, goes on the stand

Sandy says when she was 14 she remembers Hilton being "funny, outgoing and smart" and helped her in times of need.


Defense calls Maria Dabag from Argentina, who is Nilo Dabag's sister. She has a translator.

Maria Dabag says she met Gary Hilton when he was 16, when she came to live with Nilo, Cleo and Gary. When asked if Nilo got along with Hilton she said "No", Maria says Nilo did not love Gary and "the boy bothered him"

Maria says Cleo was not an affectionate mother and Maria thought Gary was a very grateful child.

State attorney Meggs asked how long did Maria stay with the family?
She said the first trip was for three months and she visited nearly every year after that.
Meggs pointed out Hilton was was not living at home during that time

3:33pm by Amy Long

Throughout the recording Dabag really questions the GBI Agents, won't give her SSN and asked about their badges multiple times, and at one point she seemed surprised and upset the conversation was being recorded.. She said she doesn't want to say anything that would hurt her son. She says he may have done something wrong but he's still her son.

Court taking a short break.


2:44pm by Amy Long

Jury still listening to Hilton's mother, Cleo Hilton Dabag's. statements.

Hilton's mother, in the recording, is recalling two of Hilton's wives. Dabag never went to any of the weddings. Hilton was married a third time to a woman with 2 children who Dabag says he seemed to like.

Dabag told GBI agents she stopped going to visit her son after his last divorce (in the 80's) because he was using a lot of street drugs and says she never knew if he ever stopped using drugs.

Dabag remembers the last time she spoke to her son. Hilton called from jail hoping she could bail him out. Dabag told Hilton she couldn't because her husband, Nilo, had been a victim of a lottery scam and it took all their money ($10,000).

Dabag says Gary called when he finally got out of jail and said he was bailed out and ask why she wouldn't help. Hilton's mom told him about the fraud and told him it took $10,000 to pay for the fraud. Gary said, "You had $10,000 and didn't come bail me out?" Dabag says Hilton hung up and she never heard from him again.

During some of the humorous personal memories Hilton's mom shares about Hilton and his childhood some of the jurors can be seen smiling and grinning.

Agents asked Dabag about the time Hilton shot her husband, Nilo. She says when Hilton was 14, he borrowed a gun from a neighbor and told Nilo if he didn't leave his mother alone he would shoot him. Nilo didn't leave, so Hilton shot him. Hilton went to a detention center after that. She says in hind sight she realized her duty was to Gary, but instead she sent him away so she could stay with her Nilo. During her story, she asked a neighbor who had stopped by to leave the room so he wouldn't get the wrong impression of her son, Gary.

Gary had no siblings. Cleo was pregnant with Nilo's child, but she has a miscarriage that was so bad Gary had to call an ambulance for her.


1:55 pm- by Amy Long

The jury is still listening to the audio recording.

Dabag says, "I just want to do this (the interview) to help Gary because I really believe this only started in September."

Dabag says Gary enjoyed moving around the country and seemed to look forward to it, but she said she felt bad he couldn't make and keep good friends. They moved to Miami in the 6th grade they settled there for a while and she says Gary had plenty of regular friends.

In the recording, Dabag told the story of a Murphy bed falling on his head. She said the bed collapsed on him and took the back of his scalp off completely. The doctors gave him more than 200 stitches. On the way to the hospital Gary asked, "Can you see my brain?" over and over.

Dabag said, "Gary hardly cried, he was a good child, a very good child."

Agent Howard asked, "Would he tell you he loved you?" Dabag said, "He wasn't really like that, I think he was worried about how my husband would act. He (Hilton) and I were close, very close you know?"

Dabag says Hilton dropped out of high school about a month before he was supposed to graduate to play drums at a Miami beach night club.

Agents asked a lot of questions about girls in Hilton's life and Dabag says she could only remember one girl by the name of Sandy that had caught his eye.

Cleo described her son as sensitive, saying one week she and her husband were talking about 'tightening their belts' and not spending as much, and at the end of the week Gary handed her all of his lunch money.

Dabag left Nilo, her husband, 7 times because he and Gary would get in such bad fights.


1:15pm by Amy Long

Court is back from lunch:

The defense is putting a picture of a scar on the back of Gary Hilton's head into evidence.

The jury is now listening to a recorded statement by Hilton's mother, Cleo Dabag, made when GBI agents came to her house the day after Hilton made a plea deal for the murder of Meridith Emerson. Dabag has since died of cancer. In the interview she talks about being on an oxygen mask.

Agent Matt Howard told Hilton's mother Hilton made a plea one day before agents went to her home.

Agents told Dabag they are trying to figure out as much as they could about Gary; how and why he committed murders.

Agent Howard told Dabag, "Gary did what he did, and in one case we have a very polite guy most of the agents have a personal relationship with him and on the other hand we have this incident he did."

Dabag says Gary's father had another wife and Hilton never knew his father, William Esco Hilton.

Dabag says Gary was born in Atlanta and she said until she remarried, it was only she and Gary until he was 8 or 9 years of age.

Hilton's mom said he never really complained much. Gary was in daycare and watched by neighbors before she put him in Boys Club when he was 8. She said Gary liked the Boys Club and seemed to have a lot of friends he'd play cops and robbers with. While at the Boys Club he won the 'Sharp Shooters' award for shooting.

Dabag says she has a picture of the day Hilton left the for the Army of Hilton writing a letter to his girlfriend, and that Hilton used to help her second husband Nilo with his horses.

Dabag says her husband Nilo was jealous of Gary and he would resent Dabag for paying too much attention to Gary. There was never any physical abuse, but she says there was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse.


Feb 18 12:15pm

The defense says it intends to play a two hour long interview with Gary Hilton's mother this afternoon.

She spoke with GBI agents, but has since died of cancer.

Defense attorneys also intend to call approximately 10 more witnesses, including one from Argentina.

Prosecutors say they may call one rebuttal witness.

The judge initially hoped jurors would get the case today, but now says that is unlikely, so he hopes to wrap up testimony today. That means the jury would not begin deliberating until Monday


Feb 18 11:35am

The defense is now playing the videotaped testimony of a woman who lived next door to Gary Hilton in Tampa back in the 50's.

Ms. Victorine Rowe said one morning soon after Hilton and his mother moved in, she heard her screaming "My son, my son."

"It was a horrible morning," she said. Rowe said a Murphy bed had fallen on the little boy's head and "he looked like he had been scalped."

Rowe said the boy was screaming as his mother held bloody towels to his head. They went to the hospital and soon after they got home they moved out.

On cross examination, the prosecutor asked Rowe if she knew why attorneys were asking her questions about this accident.

"I knew he was in some kind of trouble," Rowe said, but when asked if she knew Hilton was accused of a couple of murders, she said "Oh no!"

The defense also played a videotaped statement from a man named Thomas Perchoux of Hialeah.

Perchoux says Hilton lived with him and his wife for awhile. He says Hilton's mother came to them and asked them to care for him because Hilton was having some behavioral problems and was seeing a psychiatrist.

Perchoux says Hilton did not get along with his stepfather. Perchoux says while Hilton stayed with them, neither Hilton's mother nor stepfather ever came to visit him.


Feb 18 11:30am

An investigator with the Public Defender's Office is now on the stand, but the jury has been sent out of the courtroom while attorneys argue over the admissibility of a series of pictures.

Chris Ellrich prepared a power point presentation on the history of Gary Hilton's life. It includes several of Hilton's baby photos, a copy of one of his report cards, a picture of his first dog and even a picture of him playing the drums.

The judge refused to let jurors see most of Hilton's baby and childhood photos saying they are not relevant and are designed to engender sympathy with the jury.

The judge will allow the jury to see pictures of Hilton in the Army, photos of his parents and stepfather, as well as a photos of Hilton with one of his wives, and photos of him with several of his dogs over the years.

The defense decided not to show the presentation.


Feb 18 10:15am

Dr. William Morton says he reviewed Hilton's behavior in a series of home videos taken on Hilton's camera I addition to interviewing him in January 2010:

Morton says in his opinion Hilton was abusing Ritalin, mentioning in one of those videos he should be" buzzing" soon.

Morton says Hilton told him Ritalin made him "feel great" and "bullet

Morton says in his opinion the combination of drugs Hilton was taking would have "profound, unwanted side effects."

"You're adding gasoline to the fire," he said.


Feb 18 9:30am --

Dr. William Morton says when Hilton killed Cheryl Dunlap he was taking both Ritalin for fatigue and Effexor for depression as well as drinking 6 to 8 cups of coffee each day.

Morton says both Ritalin and Effexor can induce mania and it is a doctor's responsibility to ensure that their therapeutic benefits outweigh side effects like that.


Feb 18 9am

The defense team for convicted killer Gary Hilton continues to call witnesses to the stand in hopes of convincing jurors to recommend a life sentence rather than a death sentence.

Dr. William Alexander Morton is now on the stand. He is an expert in psychopharmacology and addictions.

Morton reviewed Hilton's medical records and prescription records and then interviewed Hilton about a year ago.


UPDATE 1:03am by Amy Long

The penalty phase of the Gary Michael Hilton trial started Thursday 2-17 and the jury is getting a lot of personal details about the man they handed the guilty verdict to.
Jurors learned Hilton's over all I-Q when he was tested was 120. That puts him in the top 10 percent of the population. They also learned about a dark childhood and details of how he killed a Georgia hiker.

"You either kill them or you get caught. I didn't kill them for any satisfaction. It was distasteful, it was dreadful. Trust me, it was."
That's just part of what Hilton told Georgia investigators back in January 2008. He went on to say how he killed hiker Meredith Emerson and where he hid the body ... little did he know when he struck a plea deal and confessed to that murder- Florida jurors would watch it years later.

Prosecutors let the confession tape speak for itself while defense attorneys spent the better part of Thursday 2-17 calling in experts like Joseph Woo who says Hilton may have been aggressive before his doctor prescribed him Ritalin at age 61, but it was on a different scale and the drugs put him over the top ... However, State Attorney Willie Meggs countered that with another question. "Do people on Ritalin murder other people?, Woo: No, in general people on Ritalin do not murder other people"

Neurophysiologist Charles Josh Golden says Hilton had depressive episodes, a negligent childhood and a possible brain injury from a Murphy bed falling on his head, and he agreed the Ritalin made Hilton hyper aggressive and irrational. "Did he know right from wrong, absolutely, there's not question in my mind he knew right from wrong. What he was doing when he did it, especially again was acting irrationally."

But it was the defense's final witness, Dr Abbey Strauss who used a power-point presentation to sum up what was going on inside Hilton's head. "Despite all the oddity, despite all the problems and relationships. He never killed anyone til he was 60 years of age."

The state says none of the experts can prove Hilton was even on Ritalin at the time of the murders.
One of the jurors asked an expert "Do you think Hilton can love?" and the expert says "His dog."

UPDATED 2.17.2011 7:30PM by Julie Montanaro

A jaw-dropping confession played in court today as jurors decide whether Gary Hilton should live or die.

That confession came on the heels of another murder in Georgia ... and that videotape was promptly followed by a defense witness who called Hilton "crazy" on the stand.

"You had me fair and square," Hilton said.

Gary Hilton sat in the corner in an orange jumpsuit. He called killing Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson "dreadful," but said he was down to $40 bucks and several days food so he had to kill someone.

"Once you've taken someone, you either kill them or get caught. If you release them, you're going to get caught," Hilton said.

Hilton told investigators he kept Emerson in his van, chained and padlocked around the neck, for three days before he killed her. And that he sexually assaulted her because she kept giving him the wrong PIN number when he tried to withdraw money from her account.

"You asked what it's like to saw off someone's head?" Hilton said.

It's cruel details like that that prosecutors hope will get Gary Hilton the death penalty for the murder and dismemberment of Cheryl Dunlap.

"We ask that you recommend a sentence of life," defense attorney Robert Friedman said in his opening remarks t the jury.

Yet defense attorneys quickly tried to humanize Hilton. They told the jury that Hilton's father left when he was young, that he and his mother moved constantly ... Hilton attended 17 different schools by the 6th grade ... and by the age of 14 ... wound up in foster care.

He did a stint in the army, got an AA degree in flight engineering, got married and divorced three times and started what attorneys called a downward spiral about five years ago.

"He was very bright, still is very bright and is crazy," said Dr. Joseph Woo.

Brain imaging expert Dr. Joseph Woo did a pet scan of Hilton's brain. He called it "abnormal." Woo pointed to a head injury from a falling Murphy bed, a history of emotional abuse, and a higher than accepted dose of Ritalin as ingredients of the "perfect storm."

He contends that Ritalin was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

"I think if it weren't for the Ritalin, I really do not believe that Mr. Hilton would have done the actions he's accused of doing," Woo testified.

Hilton's doctor was ultimately reprimanded by Georgia's Board of Medicine for prescribing the high doses of Ritalin and failing to do anything about it when Hilton started showing side effects like rapid speech and manic spells.

Testimony will continue tomorrow and the jury could begin deliberating on the question of life or death sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Yet defense attorneys indicated late this afternoon, they may not be done calling witnesses and this could stretch into Monday.

Day 9 of the Hilton trial is over and will resume at 9:00 am Friday morning.



Jury ask Dr. Golden if Hilton could love, and Golden responds by saying "his dog."


Defense calls Dr Abbey Strauss, an expert in psychiatry. Specializes in treatment of disorders

Met with Hilton twice. Once in February 2009 and again in December 2010.

Strauss says Hilton came from a horrible childhood. Relationship with his mother was horrible since she never bonded with her. Hilton told Strauss stories where she spoke of her sexual activities with her boyfriend to Hilton.

Strauss says women were not loving or caring to Hilton. Hilton's mother rejected him when he was 5-6 year old.

When Hilton was 14 he went into foster homes. Hilton said he was a "non-being."

Strauss says Hilton didn't start killing until he was in his 60's and Strauss thinks that is because of the Ritalin.

Strauss suggests an Oedipus complex because Hilton was met only with rejection.. Not sexual in nature, but needed to feel connected and safe.


3:25 --

Meggs is cross examining Dr Golden

Golden says Hilton's overall IQ is 120, which puts him in the top 10% of the population.

Golden says Hilton is a very intelligent man. He is aware of what's going on and he probably thinks that if he had the training he could be his own attorney. Golden says Hilton's lack of insight made it so he did not know he had brain problems. "These are only words to Mr. Hilton," Golden says.

Golden says any amount of Ritalin would be too much for someone like Hilton.


2:55 pm --

Dr. Golden says Hilton thinks his actions are perfectly logical. Golden calls Hilton's cognitive process a "vicious circle" saying Hilton hid his problems by self medicating and avoiding other people.

Golden agrees with Dr. Woo and says Ritalin made Hilton irrational and made it hard for him to sleep. Hilton became hyper-aggressive, suspicious, and lead him to dangerous activities.

Golden also conducted a clinical interview and says Hilton has schizoaffective disorder and a history of delusion and problems, brought up the fact that he took a shot at his step father.

Golden says, "We clearly have a brain injury, that lead to the personality problems."

Golden says Hilton did not understand the criminality of his conduct because he was impaired at the time of the murders, but he thinks Hilton knew right from wrong.

Golden says what Hilton was doing was acting irrationally. He does not understand why he did what he did. "The murders were included in the process of the brain breaking down," Golden says.


2:00 pm --

The defense calls Dr. Charles Josh Golden, a Neurophysiologist.

Dr. Golden visited with Hilton on Dec 30, 2010 in the jail to assess his ability to think at a higher level and his personality functioning.

Different tests included:

-Verbal scale test, Hilton scored a 120 which is in the upper 10 % of the population

-Nonverbal reasoning test, Hilton scored a 105, which is average

-Working memory and ability to repeat, Hilton scored a 131, which is in the upper 2% of the population has excellent memory

-Verbal memory test, Hilton scored a 117- 129, which is in the top 10% of the population

-CPT test, which measures attention and impulse control, Hilton did very poorly

-Category test, which tests Hilton's ability to figure out puzzles, Golden says Hilton had no difficulty with the test

-Patterns test- Golden says the computer test never lets the client figure out the pattern. Golden says Hilton became impulsive because he thought he knew how to do it

-Golden asked Hilton to write what he thought was wrong with him. Hilton wrote down things like anxiety and depression, some drug dependence.

-Rorschach (Ink Blot) test. Golden says Hilton had tremendous problem with the test, with almost no ability to control this emotions. When his emotions came out, he does not know how to interact with people, prefers isolation. The normal intelligent results were consistent with an 8 or 9-year-old

Golden is giving the jury a lesson in what part of the brain does what.

Golden explains that the front lobe of the brain allows a person to be able to control their emotions. Golden says that Hilton hid his brain defect by being smarter in other areas.


1:45 pm --

"Do you have an opinion that Hilton knew right from wrong?" The judge asks Dr. Woo. Woo states that "In the extreme state of behavior, it's not a clear answer if Hilton would know right from wrong, but Hilton was aware of his actions."

Meggs asked Woo if the person did not know right from wrong, would you expect them the to try and cover their tracks so law enforcement wouldn't find them?

Dr. Woo answered that he was "not sure" and "really didn't know."


1:35 pm

The court is now back from lunch.

State Attorney Meggs is cross examining Dr. Joseph Woo.
Woo says Hilton was aggressive, just on a different scale, before he was on Ritalin. Woo says Hilton shot his step father and started fires before he was prescribed Ritalin, but he wasn't killing people.

Meggs asks Dr. Woo if Ritalin makes people kill, to which Woo replied no.

Four jurors have questions after Woo's testimony.


Feb 17 11:45 am

Dr. Joseph Woo testified that Gary Hilton's PET scan was abnormal and that though Hilton is very bright, he said, he's crazy.

Woo says if Hilton had not been knocked unconscious by a falling metal Murphy bed when he was 10, "his life trajectory would have been entirely different."

Woo says Hilton has damage to the right side of his brain and his frontal lobe. Damage to Hilton's frontal lobe has impaired his ability to control his impulses and regulate his behavior, Woo said.

Woo said Hilton had three strikes against him: a brain injury, a history of abuse and then a mismanaged Ritalin prescription.

Woo said the Ritalin prescribed by Hilton's doctor was "like pouring gasoline on a fire." Woo said in his opinion without Ritalin, Hilton would not have engaged in the activity he's accused of.

He called that Ritalin prescription "the straw that broke the camel's back."


Feb 17 11:45am

Dr. Joseph Woo of the University of California at Irvine is now on the stand.

He specializes in brain imaging, psychiatry and human behavior.

He conducted a PET scan on Gary Hilton several months ago to check his brain function.


Feb 17 11:15am

The defense has started to present evidence that it hopes will convince the jury to recommend a life sentence, instead of the death penalty.

An assistant to the defense is now on the stand reading a settlement agreement reached between Gary Hilton's doctor and Georgia's Composite State Board of Medical Examiners in May 2009.

In the wake of the murder of Meredith Emerson, the board publicly reprimanded the doctor for prescribing Hilton more than the FDA recommended dose of Ritalin and failing to do anything despite noticing "rapid speech" and "manic spells."

The board suspended the doctor from practicing psychiatry and ordered him to take a medical ethics class.

Defense attorneys also introduced Hilton's honorable discharge papers from the U.S. Army.

Defense attorneys also introduced evidence that there were two prescription drugs, prescribed by the same doctor and dated October 2007, found in a fanny pack in Hilton's white Astro van when he was arrested.


[UPDATE] 2-17 Noon

Gary Hilton told GBI investigators that if he were abducted he would talk his kidnapper's ear off and try to make them look at him as a person, instead of an object. "Establish a relationship with them," Hilton said.

Hilton said he expected that of his victims but never got it.

When investigators asked when he started killing, Hilton said, "I started hunting in September of last year."

After the videotape ended, a juror asked when Emerson was abducted and when she was killed. "She was abducted on New Year's Day 2008 and was killed at about noon on January 4th. He held her captive for three and a half days."

The state has concluded its presentation in the penalty phase.


[UPDATE] 2-17 10:30AM

Special Agent Clay Bridges interviewed Hilton twice. The first time was on January 7th, 2008 when he says Hilton led them to Blood Mountain to show them where they could find Meredith Emerson's head. Bridges interviewed him again in February.

Bridges says Hilton told him he drove Emerson around in his van, chained and padlocked around the neck. He says Hilton initially denied sexually assaulting Emerson her but later admitted to it, saying Emerson owed it to him because she kept giving him the wrong pin number when he tried to withdraw money from her account.

In a videotaped statement, Hilton called killing Emerson "distasteful" and "dreadful."

Hilton said "I had 40 dollars and several days food, so I had to kill

"Once you've taken someone, you either kill them or get caught," Hilton said.

Hilton said he regretted not robbing a bank, instead of killing for money, because killing for money got him caught.

Hilton said Meredith Emerson "fought like hell." She almost whipped my ass," Hilton said, "it was not my finest hour. I am better than that."

"There comes a point they fight," Hilton said, "then they submit."


[UPDATE] 2-17 10AM --

Judge James Hankinson told jurors that they are to give an advisory sentence, either life or death, but it will ultimately be up to him to sentence Gary Hilton.

State Attorney Willie Meggs told jurors to consider whether the crime was cold, calculated or premeditated and whether it was heinous, atrocious or cruel.

Defense attorney Robert Friedman asked jurors to recommend a life sentence. He said Hilton has made no excuses for the murder, but has suffered a life of abuse, substance abuse, the side effects of improperly prescribed medication and mental health issues.

Friedman says Hilton's father left at an early age and Hilton and his mother would move frequently after that, attending 17 schools by the 6th grade, and Hilton wound up in foster care by the time he was a teenager.

Friedman says Hilton joined the army, spent time in Germany and was later honorably discharged, in part due to hallucinations and mental health issues.

Friedman says Hilton returned to the states, got an AA degree in flight engineering in Miami and later moved to Atlanta. He was married and divorced two or three times.

Friedman says Hilton's downward spiral began in 2005. They say his doctor prescribed Ritalin and did nothing to address emerging side effects of psychosis and rage.

The state has called its one and only witness to the stand. Clay Bridges is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who interviewed Hilton after his arrest for the 2008 murder of Meredith Emerson.


The penalty phase is now underway. Gary Hilton was found guilty of murder, kidnapping and grand theft on Tuesday in the 2007 disappearance of Cheryl Dunlap. Now the jury must recommend either a life sentence or death sentence.

Prosecutors intend to introduce a confession Hilton made to authorities in Georgia after his arrest in the murder of hiker Meredith Emerson. Emerson was abducted in January 2008 and Hilton led authorities to her beheaded body in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty in Georgia.

Defense attorneys are fighting to keep portions of that statement out. They say Hilton makes many references to other crimes in that statement, which his attorneys contend paint him as a serial killer.

"He talks about stalking other women in the mountains," defense attorney Paula Saunders said. He refers to himself as "a pro" at one point, Saunders said, and even says "Once you've taken them you either kill them or get caught."

Hilton also says, according to Saunders, that Blood Mountain" is a good place to hunt" because it is the busiest day hiking trial in Georgia.

Saunders says those statements are prejudicial and have nothing to do with either the Emerson murder or the Dunlap murder.

The judge promptly denied the motion.

Link to original story is below

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