After nearly two years behind bars, 23-year-old William “Marc” Wilson finally got to go home. While he was denied immunity from prosecution in connection with the June 2020 shooting death of Haley Hutcheson, Ogeechee Superior Court Judge Ronnie Thompson granted Wilson bond.
Thompson set bail at $100,000 and ordered Wilson remain at his father’s house pending trial. Wilson was previously denied bond on two occasions. The prior judge was removed for the appearance of bias or prejudice.
During the three-day-long immunity hearing, Thompson found Wilson’s testimony did not meet the standard of proof for immunity under Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Law. Wilson faces one count of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault for fatally shooting Hutcheson, 17, as they both were driving in moving vehicles along the Veterans Memorial Parkway in Statesboro, Ga.
Wilson said he felt threatened as a group of white youth driving a pickup truck began shouting racial slurs as they attempted to run his car off the road. He maintains that he was shot into the vehicle out of self-defense, fearing for his life and the safety of his girlfriend, who was also in the car with him during the incident.
Reports say the teens appeared intoxicated as they taunted and harassed Wilson. An attorney representing the 23-year-old claimed that the men in the pickup truck called his white girlfriend an “(n-word) lover” and screamed, “Your lives don’t matter,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jury selection for the trial will officially begin on April 18.
The disparities are glaring between cases involving White shooters compared to Black shooters. Stand Your Ground states, “homicides were ruled justified in 45% of cases involving a white shooter and Black victim, but just 11% of cases involving a Black shooter and white victim,” according to a press release issued by The JUSTGeorgia Coalition.
A legal defense fund has been created to help clear the charges against Wilson. The proceeds will also help the family launch an independent investigation separate from the Statesboro Police Department to cross-examine the department’s investigation.
James Woodall, a Policy Associate with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said he believes Black people are excluded from protecting themselves under Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law.
“This case amongst so many others highlights the urgency in why Georgia must address the racial disparity in Stand Your Ground claims,” Woodall said in a statement. “It is troubling that people continue to have to defend themselves against violent behavior, only to be further criminalized by an unjust legal system,” he said in a statement to The JUSTGeorgia Coalition.