Thursday afternoon Gary Michael Hilton entered a plea of "guilty" for the abduction and muder of Meredith Emerson who vanished while hiking in Blairsville, GA. Less than one month after Meredith was murdered, her killer stood before a judge for formal sentencing for his crime. As part of Hilton's deal, the death penalty was taken OFF the table because he agreed to lead authorities to Meredith's body after he was taken into custody. Suprisingly Meredith Emerson's family was okay with the fact Hilton was going to plead guilty and receive life in prison, rather than the death penalty because they felt that they may not live to see his death take place. After all, many people say that life in prison is much worse than the death penalty - which I firmly disagree with.Let us remember the victim always in all the darkness - Pictured left - Meredith Emerson and her dog Ella.
As Meredith's mom and dad addressed the court and Gary Hilton on Thursday, he sat there looking straight ahead motionless and unmoved by their grief.
While I am glad that this monster has been captured and taken off the streets, I am disturbed by the game he is playing with police and how he's managed to escape paying for taking one person's life with his own.
Gary Hilton is the prime suspect in two other missing person cases and one confirmed homicide. He is a predator and the game he is playing is very simple. He is refusing to work with authorities to reveal the location of those possible victims OR give them any information that could help them unless they agree to go easy on him - just like he did with the Emerson case. Many people might think that I am wrong for thinking he should be given the death penalty but he has admitted to murdering Meredith Emerson and detailed his crime to authorities. Since he's confirmed he's guilty, why can't he be punished like he punished his innocent victim? He will now not have to rob people to get money, live out if his van, or do any of these other hard living tactics he once did. He will now be fed three meals a day, given free medical care and housing all at the tax payers expense.
I do not believe that Meredith Emerson was the first victim of Gary Hilton. I believe there are others. What worries me is that how many others will be unsolved and furthermore, once it is confirmed that he is involved, will he be given more special deals?
I have thought about where we'd be at in this investigation or search for Meredith had the police not worked this deal with him. It is just unacceptable for someone to be out there missing. I think about if the police had not given Hilton a deal or did the deal and found Meredith like they did, I think it's very difficult to not say I'd want to bring her home at all cost. I guess I'm just selfish. I want him to pay in the most harsh way and I want her back home where she belongs. I guess we can't always get what we want, and there is never a happy ending to these types of situations.
I just hope that at this point the authorities are able to charge Hilton with some of these other cases, and bring home those who are still missing. Perhaps the one case that is a unsolved homicide that they believe he's linked to, be the one that gives him the death penalty? I think Gary Hilton needs to die and I think I know where I'd like him to go once he dies.
:Hiker fought Hilton until death'I would like to think she was doing everything she could,' DA says
By JEREMY REDMON
The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 01/31/08
Meredith Emerson, who had a green belt in judo, put up such a fight against Gary Michael Hilton that he dropped his police-style baton while trying to kidnap her in the mountains of North Georgia on New Year's Day.
A diminutive but scrappy woman who stood 5-foot-4, Emerson continued to resist Hilton during the next three days, repeatedly giving the 61-year-old drifter incorrect pass codes for her ATM cards.
not just to save herself, but to help authorities apprehend her captor.
"It is unclear, [but] I would like to think she was doing everything she could to ensure that he would perhaps get caught during his efforts to use the ATMs," Dawson County District Attorney Lee Darragh said.
Hilton was arrested on Jan. 4, and later led authorities to Emerson's body. Darragh described Emerson's three-day ordeal in court Thursday moments before Judge Bonnie Oliver accepted Hilton's guilty plea to murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
With Emerson's parents watching from the second row, Darragh gave the following account, which was drawn from authorities' interviews with Hilton, and confirmed by his public defender, Rob McNeill.
Emerson was not the first hiker Hilton approached on a trail on Jan. 1. He considered another potential victim, but "she was with other people."
Emerson became his focus for two reasons: She was alone on Blood Mountain, and she was female.
He wanted her money. And he knew that he would eventually kill her.
Witnesses had reported spotting Hilton following Emerson in the mountains that day.
One witness, a former law enforcement officer, said he saw Hilton carrying a police-style baton and a large knife on his belt. That witness later found two water bottles, a dog leash and some dog treats along with the baton on the edge of a hiking trail.
"There was in fact a struggle at that location between Ms. Emerson and this defendant," Darragh told the judge as Hilton sat to his left, wearing a dark bulletproof vest over his orange jail uniform and staring straight ahead. "This defendant, however, was able to place her under his control eventually."
Hilton took Emerson back to her car, where he stole her purse and ATM cards. Then he placed her in his van and drove her around to various locations in North Georgia, seeking to get money out of ATMs with her cards. She kept giving him incorrect PIN numbers.
He never was able to withdraw any money from Emerson's account. He was videotaped trying to do so at an ATM machine in Canton.
On Jan. 3, Hilton called a former employer, seeking some money and his old job back. The next day, Hilton told Emerson he was going to let her go.
He "secured" her in Dawson Forest, went to his van and returned with the handle of a car jack. He struck her on the head several times until she died. In hopes to conceal his crime after beating her to death, he decapitated her.
"He used the phrase that he did those things for 'forensic purposes,'" Darragh said.
Hilton was given an opportunity to address the court after his guilty plea but refused. When the hearing ended, sheriff's deputies led Hilton to a side exit, where he appeared to frantically reach for the door handle.
McNeill, his attorney, said Hilton is remorseful but decided not to address Emerson's parents in court because "anything he could say would be hollow and empty."
"He realizes what he has done to the family," McNeill said. "He realizes what a special person Meredith was."
She "actually did fight him in the beginning until she was unable to anymore," Darragh told reporters after the court hearing.
Added McNeill: "She was absolutely a hero. She did everything she possibly could" to survive.