May 5, 2020–11:20 a.m.
The Georgia Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a Hays State Prison Inmate convicted of killing another inmate back in 2011.
According to evidence presented at trial, Esco Hill was part of a large group of inmates at the prison in Chattooga County that launched a retaliatory attack on fellow inmate Alfred Morris, which led to his death.
Hill, who represented himself at trial, appealed the malice murder conviction by arguing that the trial court erred by requiring him to be visibly shackled for the duration of his six-day trial in January of 2016.
The trial court cited security issues as the reason for Hill being shackled.
The state argued that the trial court did not err, but to the extent that it did, any error was harmless because the evidence supporting Hill’s guilt was overwhelming.
In the ruling which reversed the conviction, Chief Justice Harold Melton wrote that although the evidence against Hill was sufficient to sustain the conviction, it was not overwhelming.
The opinion further states that “The appearance of Hill in handcuffs, a waist chain and leg irons undoubtedly reinforced the impression that he was dangerous, framing the lens through which the jurors viewed him as he conducted his defense.”
The state may choose to retry Hill.
You can read the ruling HERE.