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Hilton gets life for murders of N.C. couple

POSTED: May 1, 2013 4:00 a.m.

Convicted serial killer Gary Michael Hilton received four more life sentences last week for the kidnapping and slaying of an elderly couple in North Carolina.

Hilton, 66, pleaded guilty in March 2012 to the murders of John and Irene Bryant in exchange for prosecutors in North Carolina not seeking a death sentence.

Appearing in an Asheville, N.C., federal court April 25, Hilton was also sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with robbing the Bryants, who disappeared in October 2007 while hiking in the Pisgah National Forest.

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins offered her sympathies to the Bryant family at the conclusion of the case.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and while today's outcome cannot bring back John and Irene Bryant, it is our sincere hope that everyone impacted by Hilton's heinous crime can finally have some closure," she said.

"I also want to thank the prosecutors and our law enforcement partners who worked on this case for their hard work, professionalism and integrity."

Hilton negotiated a similar plea to avoid the death penalty five years ago in north Georgia. That was after he led authorities to the body of Meredith Emerson, 24, whom he had killed in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area after kidnapping her from a hiking trail in Union County.

Dawson County Sheriff's Lt. Col. John Cagle, who was with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation when Emerson was killed, said evidence collected locally in 2008 was used to enhance the case against the drifter in North Carolina.

Describing Hilton as a "monster," Cagle said the Emerson case is one of the few that continues to haunt him.

"He's the worst of the worst," he said.

Hilton is currently awaiting execution in Florida for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap, whose body hunters found at the Apalachicola National Forest in 2007.

Hilton has also been named a prime suspect in the slaying of 27-year-old Michael Scot Louis, whose body was found at a Florida state park about the same time as the other victims. He has not been charged in that case.




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