The Utah Supreme Court has ordered the 4th District Court to hold a hearing to determine whether George Wesley Hamilton should have a new trial in the 1985 slaying of Southern Utah State College student Sharon Sant.
The order came after the Utah Attorney General's Office agreed to defense attorney Ronald Yengich's motion for a hearing.Hamilton was convicted of second-degree murder last August in the slaying of the student, who disappeared while hitchhiking from Cedar City to Fillmore. Parts of her body were later found near a construction site.
Hamilton and Robert Bott were charged, but Bott was released following confusion over an immunity offer for his testimony against Hamilton, who was convicted without Bott's testimony.
After the conviction, for which Hamilton was sentenced to five years to life in prison, defense attorneys discovered that one of the jurors took a newspaper story into the jury room. The story contained information that had been disallowed as evidence.
Prosecutors, while stipulating agreeing to the hearing on the motion for new trial Monday, have said they plan to vigorously defend the verdict.
"We ran what we thought was a strong prosecution under very difficult circumstances," said Millard County Attorney Warren Peterson. "We still think the motion was valid and we will vigorously fight this motion."