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DNA appeal denied for killer George Wesley Hamilton, convicted of 1985 murder

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 3:56 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A murderer who has spent more than 20 years appealing his conviction has lost another round.

Fourth District Judge James Brady on Wednesday denied George Wesley Hamilton's request to have DNA testing done on blood and hair connected to the crime.

Southern Utah State College student Sharon Sant, 19, disappeared Aug. 1, 1985, while hitchhiking to a friend's funeral in Fillmore. Her body was found in a shallow grave near Cove Fort two weeks later. Her head, right hand, left arm, feet, breasts and uterus had been removed. A machine used for splitting wood was found covered with blood near the gravesite as well as numerous beer cans and bottles.

Hamilton was convicted of murdering Sant in 1987. But his conviction was thrown out when it was learned that a juror brought a newspaper clipping about the trial to the jury room while the case was still under way.

He was granted a new trial in 1989 and was convicted again.

Hamilton again appealed his conviction to the Utah Supreme Court on the grounds that circumstantial evidence was insufficient to support the case, that the jury was not given proper instructions about fingerprint evidence, and that the judge shouldn't have allowed testimony about an unrelated assault on another woman.

But in 1991, his appeal was denied.

In his latest appeal, Hamilton argued that DNA testing on a blood-stained bottle found at the crime scene and a hair found in his truck would prove he was framed.

Assistant attorney general Andrew Peterson countered, however, that Hamilton did not show the evidence was in “testable condition,” as is required, or that the testing could prove he was factually innocent.

He also said there was "significant other evidence" tying Hamilton to the crime, including a witness who saw Sant in Hamilton's truck, the bloody machine found near the crime scene belonged to Hamilton, Hamilton conceding during trial he was with Sant at the crime scene and that he picked up a hitchhiker, and Hamilton not showing up for work the day of the murder.

Hamilton is currently serving a life sentence at the Utah State Prison.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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