Convicted Murderer Gets A Second Chance
KENNEWICK, Wash. - A Richland man convicted of murdering his landlords now has a second chance at going free.
Right now Kevin Hilton is serving a life sentence. In 2003, a jury convicted him of shooting his landlords Larry and Jo Ulrich. But some new court rulings will bring him back to Benton County for a new trial.
It all has to do with filing the right paperwork. In a short time the state will move Hilton from the Walla Walla Penitentiary back to the Benton County Justice Center. There he gets another chance to prove he didn't murder his landlords.
It's been roughly three and half years since Benton County Superior Court Judge Vic Vanderschoor sentenced Hilton to life in prison without parole.
Since then, his attorney sent the case to the Washington State Court of Appeals. The Appellate Court ruled prosecutors should not have been allowed to use certain evidence during the trial because investigators didn't list the evidence on the search warrant.
"The court of said since it was in the affidavit instead of the warrant that the warrant was defective," said Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller.
Since prosecutors shouldn't have used the evidence, the Appeals Court ruled Hilton should get a new trial.
Prosecutors asked the State Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, but that didn't happen.
Hilton's family said they didn't doubt he'd get a second chance.
"We knew eventually that the higher courts would see that in the original court hearing things were done incorrectly. So we knew this day was coming. We just didn't know how long it was going to take," said Kathey Cox, Kevin Hilton's sister.
Although higher authorities ruled Hilton gets a retrial, prosecutors don't know yet if they're going to go through with it.
"The question is because of this technical legal issue - Are we going to be able to prove it without all the evidence available to us?" said Miller.
If prosecutors choose not to seek a new murder trial, Kevin Hilton will go free.
Right now prosecutors are waiting to get a hold of Hilton's Defense Attorney Kevin Holt to determine when a possible trial could start.