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December 25, 2012

Court considers stacked life sentences

A state appeals court is scheduled today to receive arguments in the case of a Quinlan man, who received back-to-back life sentences after being convicted earlier this year of two counts of sexually molesting a child.

The Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana intends to receive briefs in the appeal of Michael Charles Hill.

If Hill’s convictions and sentences stand, and if he survives, Hill will likely be more than 100 years old before he is ever released from prison.

Hill, 41, was convicted in April of one count each of sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact. The jury in the case assessed the maximum sentence of life in prison on both counts.

Following a punishment in the 196th District Court, Judge Steve Tittle agreed to stack Hill’s sentences.

Hunt County First Assistant District Attorney Keli M. Aiken filed a motion with the court seeking cumulative sentences in the case, meaning Hill would have to serve the sentences consecutively, rather than concurrently.

The maximum sentences for both charges would typically be 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division. However, the prospective punishments Hill was facing were enhanced to five to 99 years to life in prison on each count, due to his previous criminal record.

Prosecutors introduced evidence during the trial that Hill had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and felony theft in Dallas County in 2000.

A life prison sentence meant Hill would spend a minimum of 30 years in prison before he would be eligible to be considered for parole. Consecutive life sentences raised the minimum to 60 years in prison.

The two indictments were returned by the Hunt County grand jury in March 2010. They allege that Hill sexually molested a female victim of less than 14 years of age on or about Aug. 22, 2007 and again on Aug. 22, 2008.

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