Case Of Georgia Student Who Allegedly Killed Teen In Self-Defense Will Test Racial Limits Of 'Stand Your Ground' Law, Attorney Says
A group of people in a vehicle, which included 17-year-old Haley Hutcheson, allegedly hurled racial slurs and insults at William Marcus Wilson and his girlfriend.
July 07, 2020 at 7:03 pm
Civil rights activists in Georgia are demanding the state's "Stand Your Ground" be applied fairly across all races amid charges against a biracial 21-year-old college student.
William Marcus Wilson is facing a felony murder charge in connection to the shooting death of 17-year-old Haley Hutcheson in Georgia. Defense attorneys said the 21-year-old college student fired at Hutcheson's vehicle because he felt he and his girlfriend’s lives were in danger.According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a group of people in a black Chevrolet Silverado harassed Wilson and his girlfriend in traffic while the pair were going to Taco Bell on the night of June 14. Men in the Silverado hurled racial slurs and insults at Wilson, yelling “Your lives don’t matter” and calling his passenger a “n****r lover.”
After the group in the Silverado tried to run Wilson’s Ford Focus off the road, he fired shots into the direction of the vehicle, lead attorney Francys Johnson said.“They attempted to run him off the road. If it weren’t for his actions, as his mother stated, we’d be mourning the death of two, not the death of Haley Hutcheson,” he said at a press conference Monday.
Wilson’s legal team said he is permitted to carry the weapon he used to defend himself in the encounter and, thus, shouldn’t be criminally charged.In accounts from the Statesboro Police Department, people in the Silverado describe two to three shots being fired, one of which hit Hutcheson in the head. She was later pronounced dead at Georgia Regional Medical Center, per the Journal-Constitution.
Wilson’s father, the Coweta County fire chief, told WTOC that the 21-year-old was raised to love and respect others.
“His character is based on loving others. That’s who Marc Wilson is, who he always has been and will continue to always be,” Pat Wilson said.He turned himself in to police on June 17, the Journal-Constitution reported.
In the investigation notes released by police, there’s not much detail provided about the racism and aggression Wilson endured, the Journal-Constitution reports. Instead, police noted Wilson's girlfriend “admitted observing Wilson shoot in the direction of the black truck” and that Wilson “admitted to shooting ‘under’ the truck.”“Make no mistake about it,” Johnson said Monday. “We believe that if Marc Wilson was a white gentleman that night, accosted by a truckload of angry, belligerent, possibly drunk Black men, and he used a legally possessed firearm to defend himself and his passenger, that he would have been given a medal and not given a prosecution.”
However, the SPD told the Journal-Constitution that evidence, which includes uninvolved eyewitness accounts, suggests a different scenario than Wilson’s claim of self-defense.
“At this point in time, what the evidence points us toward is that there was an altercation that led to a shooting, and that shooting led to her death. And the shooting itself is an aggravated assault,” Capt. Jared Akins said.
Luke Harry Conley, an 18-year-old among the group in the Silverado, faces an obstruction charge for withholding information during the investigation and encouraging the rest of the group to do the same. Conley said the shooting was unprovoked, but a supplementary police report indicated that there was evidence of a beer can potentially being thrown from the truck.
“It is believed that Conley has involvement in the case,” the report states. “He was seen yelling out of a window of the victim vehicle just prior to the shooting.”
Johnson, a former Georgia NAACP president, compared the handling of his client’s case to that of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was killed while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, in February.
“That’s the test – whether the metes and bounds of ‘stand your ground’ will matter for Marc Wilson, like they were purported to matter for the killers of Ahmaud Arbery. Remember, they were able to cloak themselves in ‘stand your ground’ and self-defense claims and avoided arrest for more than 72 days, even though there was video evidence to contradict them,” Johnson said.
Georgia NAACP State President James Woodall said during the Monday press conference that the case is similar to a public lynching.
Wilson will appear before a judge to request bond on Tuesday in the Bulloch County Superior Court, WTOC reports.
A Change.org petition is demanding a fair trial for Wilson.