Thursday 23 October 2014

Murder Victim’s Brother Speaks Out About Deferred Adjudication Sentence

On the morning of the formal sentencing of 10 years deferred adjudication for murder, the family of the victim has spoken out against what they perceive to be a failure of the justice system.

Kenneth Hill, the brother of Danny Hill, who was shot to death by his wife Charlene Hill in 2006, has written an open letter to his deceased brother that points to a tumultuous relationship between his brother and Charlene Hill and a disbelief that Charlene Hill will serve no time in prison even after admitting her guilt.

“We are all angry that the woman who murdered you and has been found ‘guilty as charged in the indictment’ by a second jury, may soon be set free on probation because of a justice system that would rather see a deal get cut than wait for a jury to render their final verdict,” wrote Kenneth Hill.

To read the letter in its entirety, click here.

 According to Chief Domestic Violence Prosecutor Chad Bridges, Charlene and Danny Hill lived in the Pecan Grove subdivision near Richmond.  She shot him to death on November 14, 2006 and called 911 herself. 

Charlene Hill claimed from the beginning that the shooting was in self-defense because she endured years of abuse from her husband.  But at the time of the shooting, testimony showed Danny Hill stood unarmed across their bedroom while the defendant was close to the door.  The testimony further showed Danny Hill was without a weapon, had not attacked the defendant that night, and that Charlene Hill had a means of escape prior to the shooting. 

When the jury was finally convened to deliberate to a verdict, they appeared to have been unable to reach a unanimous verdict after one and a half days of deliberations. 

While the jury continued its deliberations, Charlene Hill admitted her guilt as to the murder of Danny Hill.  Waiving her right to appeal, Charlene Hill admitted that self-defense did not apply.  Charlene Hill was then sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication probation in an agreement with prosecutors, with the formal sentencing scheduled for this morning.

“Oh how our justice system has disappointed,” wrote Kenneth Hill. “It’s now been over four years since your wife and partner-in-everything has murdered you. Twenty-three members from two separate juries have sat and listened to the evidence and have found her guilty of murder, yet she is about to get a slap on the hand and be free on probation, because the conversations in the jury room were leaked to the defense team that a guilty plea was eminent. What else could explain how an emergency meeting was called by the defense team to negotiate a plea deal on a lesser charge just minutes from the final jury finding of ‘Guilty as Charged’ in the indictment?”

As part of the agreement, Charlene Hill must serve at least five years of her probation before she can request the term of probation to be shortened.  Under the law in this case, Charlene Hill could not have received probation had the state not agreed to it. 

While 10 years is the maximum probation term, a jury verdict would have put Charlene Hill in prison for a term of years, from five years to life.  Deferred adjudication is a form of probation that, if successfully completed, results in no conviction.  If Charlene Hill fails to live up to the conditions imposed on her by the court, she risks the maximum punishment of life in prison. 

Hill was tried in the 434th District Court before Presiding Judge James H. Shoemake. 

“Your family saw a court case that allowed into evidence everything bad about you, while removing everything that was wonderful about you, yet even with this unjust method of presenting who you were, a jury still found your killer guilty,” wrote Kenneth Hill. “This should speak volumes to the community about just how bad and evil your killer really is, and why she should not be allowed to roam freely in the community. If this trial had been about her and her lifelong misdeeds, she would have never made it out of the first trial.”