D.A. Will File New Murder Charge in 24-Year-Old Case
The Kings County district attorney’s office will retry Booker T. Hillery Jr. for the murder of a Hanford area teen-ager 24 years ago, it was disclosed by Dist. Atty. Robert Maline.
A murder charge will be filed today, and Hillery should be driven from the state medical prison at Vacaville for arraignment in Municipal Court on Monday, Maline said.
Hillery twice was sentenced to die for killing Marlene Miller, 15, with a scissors and dumping her body in an irrigation canal behind her house in March, 1962. Both death sentences were overturned, however, and Hillery’s conviction and subsequent life term were struck down in January by the U. S. Supreme Court.
The court cited a century-old rule that criminals must be retried if members of their own race were excluded from grand juries that bring criminal indictments, as they were in Hillery’s case.
Served 10 Years on Death Row
Hillery, who is black, was a farm worker on parole for raping a Hanford woman in 1955 when he was charged with the murder of Miller, who was white. Hillery, now 54, served 10 years on Death Row.
He would have been freed for the first time since the murder had Maline failed to charge him again.
Maline explained Wednesday that his decision to retry Hillery was based on the evidence, parole board transcripts and the wishes of the Miller family.
The sheriff’s office plans to place Hillery in a cell by himself and beef up courtroom security.
Court administrator Herb Dennison has asked the state judicial council to assign a visiting judge for a preliminary hearing, which would be the basis for a retrial.