By Patsy R. Brumfield
CALHOUN COUNTY – Billy Dale Hill’s appeal for post-conviction DNA testing was denied Thursday by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
In a 9-0 ruling written by Justice James Kitchens Jr., the court told Hill that it could not find the existence of a laboratory slide he claimed contained sperm cells from the autopsy of a rape victim.
In 1977, Hill was convicted of capital murder in Calhoun County and sentenced to death. The court reversed his conviction and later he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms after pleading guilty separately to murder and rape.
But in 2011, the court vacated his life sentence for the rape conviction and sent it back to the circuit court for a term “reasonably expected to be less than life.”
The court also granted Hill’s motion for DNA testing of existing biological evidence, which Hill specified as a laboratory slide.
After a resentencing hearing, Hill was sentenced to 44 years on the rape conviction. The court found no DNA evidence to be tested.
In his latest appeal to the state’s highest court, Hill insisted he was denied due process and accused the circuit court of destroying the slide without giving him the required notice.
After some investigation, the circuit court admitted destroying some exhibits from Hill’s capital murder trial but the trial judge found no slide in the court’s possession.
Calhoun County Circuit Clerk Deborah Dunn testified that she had never seen the slide in question.
After denying Hill’s appeal, the court strongly warned the courts to observe statutory mandates for the preservation, destruction and accessibility of biological evidence connected with a crime.