Judge delays trial of suspect in NC hiker deaths

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Gary Michael Hilton, left, talks to public defender Neil Smith in this 2008 AP photo.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge has again delayed the death penalty trial of a twice-convicted killer who’s charged with killing a couple from Hendersonville in a national forest.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Judge Martin Reidinger this week agreed to postpone the trial of Gary Michael Hilton until April 30.

Hilton’s lawyers say they need more time than usual to prepare, because capital punishment cases are fundamentally different from other criminal trials.

They say they have to review hundreds of thousands of documents before the trial can start.

Prosecutors say Hilton killed John and Irene Bryant, who vanished while hiking in Pisgah National Forest in 2007.

The 65-year-old Hilton has a Florida death sentence and life in prison in Georgia for killing hikers in those states.

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