A 4th District judge has set an evidentiary hearing for July 19 to determine whether convicted murderer George Wesley Hamilton should receive another trial.
Hamilton, convicted last August in the mutilation murder of 19-year-old Sharon Sant of Fillmore, is serving five years to life in the Utah State Prison.Judge George E. Ballif also has scheduled a pre-hearing conference July 11 with prosecuting and defense attorneys. The possibility of a retrial surfaced earlier this month after the Utah Supreme Court ordered Ballif to determine whether Hamilton deserved a new trial because of alleged jury misconduct.
In March, Ballif quashed a motion for a new trial on grounds that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over the case because that is where Hamilton had filed an appeal of his conviction. The Supreme Court, however, ordered 4th District Court to hold a hearing once the Utah attorney general's office agreed to a defense motion for the hearing.
Millard County attorneys hope Hamilton doesn't get another trial, but they say they are preparing nevertheless.
Hamilton, 44, was convicted of second-degree murder last Aug. 20 for killing Sant Aug. 1, 1985. Sant, a Southern Utah State College student, disappeared while hitchhiking from Cedar City to Fillmore. Her mutilated torso was found about two weeks later in a shallow grave near the Cove Fort exit along I-15.
The motions for a new trial followed allegations in December that a juror brought a newspaper clipping about the trial into the jury room. But the clipping reportedly was not read to other jurors.
During the trial, Ballif warned jurors not to read newspaper stories or watch television news reports about the trial.