The defense dropped its case Monday around 3:50 p.m. in Marc Wilson’s trial on felony murder and other charges in the June 2020 shooting of Haley Hutcheson, 17. Judge Ronnie Thompson then sent the jury home with instructions to return Tuesday at 8 a.m. for the closing arguments.
Emma Rigdon, now 22, of Statesboro, who was dating Marc Wilson and rode with him in his car on the night of the June 13-14, 2020 shooting, testified Monday that the couple was hit by a pickup truck , who tried to run her off the Veterans Memorial Parkway. Some male occupants of the truck had their arms out the windows and “freaked” the couple, or in other words “pointed the finger,” she said.
“We pulled out of the intersection and … the truck started swerving into our lane, they started, you know, moving and they happily came back but stayed right there with us,” Ridgon said through sobs. “I remember going to the rumble strips, and that was whenever Marc shot to say, ‘Hey, leave us alone.’ We just wanted to get food.”
Then the truck “sort of fell back” and came back, Rigdon testified when Martha Hall, one of Wilson’s defense attorneys, put her on the witness stand and asked questions.
“They were hanging out the windows, waving their arms around and stuff. They dodged…” Rigdon said. “He shot on the ground just to be like, ‘Hey, leave us alone.'”
But she also said she didn’t know there were girls in the truck, only “boys,” and that she couldn’t see their facial features.
“I couldn’t hear the exact words, no, ma’am,” Rigdon said when Hall asked if she could hear what the truck’s occupants were saying.
insults not heard
Cross-examining Rigdon shortly afterwards, Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black asked, “Isn’t it also true that you haven’t heard any racial slurs against you or Marc?”
“I didn’t hear anything,” she said. “I had my dog on my lap. There were other things that distracted me back then.”
Black also had Rigdon confirm statements she had made to police and in previous hearings that she had told Wilson to put his gun down and not shoot.
During the encounter, Rigdon had heard a loud noise, like a bang, but she didn’t know what it was, she said.
At the time, Hutcheson was driving with four other Claxton teenagers in a Chevrolet Silverado crew-cab pickup. She sat in the center back seat while Mason Glisson drove, Ashton Deloach next to him in the passenger seat, and Luke Conley and Marci Neagley in the back seat on either side of Hutcheson.
A bullet penetrated the truck’s rear window near the center, leaving a somewhat oval hole through the glass, some of which shattered inside the truck, experts said. The entry wound to Hutcheson’s head was also described by a coroner as ovoid, and two experts who testified said penetrating glass could cause the bullet to start tipping.
The jury heard somewhat conflicting opinions from prosecution and defense experts about the relative position of the car and truck when the shots were fired.
Statesboro Police Detective Keith Holloway, who testified as an expert in crime scene editing and reconstruction, stated that the shot that penetrated the rear glass was fired between 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., that is, from about 45 degrees to to the right of the truck at 90 degrees or directly behind it. Holloway said he believed the shot was fired no further forward than around the back corner of the truck bed.
In addition to the bullet — or actually the lead core of a jacketed bullet — that was removed from Hutcheson’s head during the autopsy, police discovered a second lead core from the front tire on the driver’s side of Glisson’s truck. Firearms and ballistics expert Jay Jarvis, hired by the defense to review the state’s evidence, testified that this bullet and the mark of a bullet impact under the truck frame “coincided with shots fired in front of the truck.”
After turning left onto Fair Road, Wilson and Rigdon did not go straight to her house but to the house of a friend of Wilson’s, James Dixon. Wilson tried to borrow Dixon’s truck, but Dixon declined, noting he had to drive his kids somewhere the next day, he testified last week.
Wilson then returned to his home — his parents’ home in Sharpsburg, Coweta County — in his own car, a blue Ford Fusion. Statesboro Police, who drove to Sharpsburg to search the vehicle, reported finding no bullet holes or other damage to the vehicle. No defense witness disagreed.
Although he returned home to Sharpsburg on Sunday, June 14, Wilson did not tell his parents about the incident from detectives until Tuesday, June 16, both of whom testified Monday. But on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, Marc Wilson, accompanied by his father Deron “Pat” Wilson and defense attorney Francys Johnson, turned himself in at the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and surrendered the gun.
His mother, Amanda Wilson, testified Monday afternoon. Tearfully, she said that when her son told her what happened they had collapsed on her kitchen floor as she tried to hold him up, hug him and tell him it would be okay.
“‘N… your life doesn’t matter’, ‘I wanted to die.’ They said, “I’m going to kill you,” she blurted out in court, when Black countered that it was irrelevant and hearsay.
Judge Ronald K. Thompson upheld the objection and directed the jury to ignore the comment. No one who was actually on the parkway that night has testified that this was said. Marc Wilson has not testified, as is his right.
During the four days of testimony, the jury heard from three of the pickup truck’s four surviving occupants — Glisson and passengers Deloach and Neagley — with differing accounts of their actions. But all have testified that none of the five had a gun. Glisson and Deloach have admitted to drinking while everyone in the truck was a minor.
The jury did not hear directly from the other male passenger, Luke Conley. As he had done in previous hearings, Conley asserted his right not to testify, as the Statesboro police had charged him with obstruction over alleged conflicting information early in their investigation.
Appearing Monday with his own attorney, Cindy Delgado, Conley again indicated he would not testify. Thompson, who presided over the trial in Bulloch County Superior Court, heard this during one of the many times the jury left the courtroom during interactions between the judge and the attorneys.
Before the trial, Thompson chose to exclude information the defense was trying to bring in that related to alleged “past bad actions” by Conley or other truck occupants. But Thompson allowed the jury to hear brief replies from some witnesses questioned about Conley’s reputation.