STATESBORO, Ga. — A metro Atlanta fire chief’s son will stay in jail after police say he shot and killed a 17-year-old girl in Statesboro after getting into a confrontation with truck full of teenagers.
The incident happened June 14. Marc Wilson, 21, who is the son of Coweta County’s fire chief, told police that a group of teenagers followed him and his girlfriend from a Taco Bell in their truck, shouting racial slurs and trying to run their car off the road.
Wilson, who is biracial, claims the teens pulled in front of his girlfriend’s car and were hanging out of the truck and yelling at his white girlfriend, calling her a “n‐‐‐‐‐ lover,” and screaming, “Your lives don’t matter.” Wilson told police the truck tried to run his girlfriend’s car off the road and he heard something hit the truck, so he fired his legally-owned handgun at the truck.
A bullet went through the truck's back window, killing 17-year-old Haley Hutcherson.
Wilson, who lives in Sharpsburg, was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
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On Tuesday, Bulloch County Superior Court Judge Michael Muldrew refused a request from Wilson’s attorneys to reduce the charges to reckless conduct causing bodily harm. Muldrew called Wilson a “significant threat” despite the fact that Wilson has no prior criminal record. Muldrew also denied Wilson’s request for bond.
The case has sparked questions about whether Georgia's "stand your ground" laws apply to people of color.
Wilson said that he shot at the truck in self-defense.
Statesboro police detective Travis Kreun said Wilson consented to a phone interview with police days after the shooting.
“He said, ‘All I can tell you is me and my girlfriend were really scared that night,‘” Kreun testified. He said Wilson added: “With everything going on in this country, I’m not going to let me and my girl get run off the road.”
The Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, has said the state’s self-defense laws, which allow people to use deadly force when facing grave and imminent threats, haven’t been applied in Wilson’s case because of his race.
Kreun said Hutcheson’s friends in the pickup truck denied saying anything antagonistic to Wilson, the son of a Black father and white mother. He told the judge one passenger said another person in the truck may have extended his middle fingers toward Wilson’s car.
Kreun also testified that Wilson’s girlfriend told police she saw two of the white teens hanging out the truck’s windows and making rude hand gestures, but she didn’t hear any racial slurs.
The detective said Wilson’s girlfriend told police: “It kind of looked like they were trying to run us off the road, but I don’t know.”
All of the witnesses said Wilson fired several gunshots, with a pause between two separate volleys of bullets, Kreun said, with Wilson and his girlfriend both told police he fired toward the ground.
But one bullet went through the truck’s rear windshield and hit Hutcheson of Reidsville in the back of the head. Her friends rushed her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. None of the other four teens in the truck were hurt.
Prosecutor Daphne Totten noted that Wilson didn’t call police or tell his family what had happened until three days after the shooting. Investigators identified Wilson as the possible shooter after a friend of Wilson’s girlfriend called in a tip, Keun said.
Police recovered three shell casings from the roadway. Kreun said they also found a beer can matching others found in the teenagers’ truck. He said the teenagers, including the driver, acknowledged they had been drinking.
One of the truck’s passengers, 18-year-old Luke Conley, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Kreun testified that Conley had initially withheld information from police.
Wilson’s attorneys called Conley to the witness stand Tuesday, but he refused to answer any questions. Instead, he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The truck’s driver, 18-year-old Mason Glisson, also testified and denied swerving in the road or otherwise driving aggressively. Glisson said he was driving after drinking several beers, though he was never charged. He said there was music playing in the truck and he didn’t see or hear anyone antagonize Wilson.
Wilson’s attorney, Mawuli Davis, asked Glisson if he was testifying that Wilson opened fire at his truck for no reason.
Glisson responded: “I don’t know what my passengers did. But I didn’t hear them say anything.”
Statesboro is about 55 miles (90 kilometers) northwest of Savannah.
The Associated Press and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group