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The Augusta Chronicle (GA)
February 12, 2000
Author: Greg Rickabaugh South Carolina Bureau
After suffering years of her husband’s depressing moods, withdrawal from the family and multiple suicide attempts, Jacqueline Hill called and asked for a divorce.
More than three years later, Mrs. Hill took the witness stand at her husband’s capital murder trial and told a 12-member jury the details of David Mark Hill’s life before Sept. 16, 1996.
It was the same day he walked into the Department of Social Services office in North Augusta and shot three caseworkers. Prosecutors say Mr. Hill was angry that DSS had taken custody of his children.
According to his wife, Mr. Hill’s life was torn apart by a 1995 car accident that crippled their daughter, Rebecca.
“He got worse and stayed in his room,” she said. “He got to where he wouldn’t come out at all. He wouldn’t wash himself, and he wouldn’t come out to see the kids.”
Defense attorneys used testimony Friday from Mrs. Hill and two psychiatrists to show their client’s downward spiral and explain why he might have snapped on a rainy day in 1996. They also called on jail officials to describe his good behavior since his arrest, and a local man was asked to recount a 1993 chemical plant explosion in which Mr. Hill is credited with saving a co-worker’s life.
Defense attorneys are asking jurors to sentence Mr. Hill to life imprisonment instead of death.
Dr. Jonathan Pincus, a behavioral neurologist who interviewed Mr. Hill in May 1999, showed jurors images of the defendant’s brain, which show part of it missing. The images were taken after Mr. Hill shot himself the day after the DSS killings.
Dr. Pincus suggested Mr. Hill is an entirely different person than before the killings, explaining why the defendant sits in court and shows no emotion. The self-inflicted gunshot gave Mr. Hill the equivalent of a frontal lobotomy, robbing him of all emotion.
“He seems to be unaffected by all of this that’s going on,” Dr. Pincus said about Mr. Hill. “I mean, I would be under a state of extreme anxiety.”
Before the killings, there was evidence Mr. Hill suffered from seizures, depression and anxiety attacks, the doctor said.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Jeff McKie testified that Mr. Hill was likely suffering from a mental depressive disorder on Sept. 16, 1996. Blood tests reveal he was not taking his anti-depressant medication in the days leading up to the killings, he said.
In her afternoon testimony, Mrs. Hill told jurors she met David Hill in 1991 while working with him at Amoco chemical plant. She described him as a fun, outgoing and romantic man. After three months, they married and eventually had a daughter, Rebecca, and twin sons.
It was an explosion at UCB Radcure chemical plant in 1993 that also shattered Mr. Hill’s world. The traumatic event reminded him of a 1979 car accident in which he wrecked the car and killed his sister.
“He started having nightmares,” Mrs. Hill said. “That was the beginning of it. He started staying in his room. . . . He lost his job.”
Mr. Hill began suffering from depression and started taking medication, which would eventually turn into an addiction. He could not care for the children, his wife said.
By 1996, DSS caseworkers were investigating complaints of abuse and neglect in the Hill home, which Mrs. Hill claims were not true. Also, the caseworkers learned of Mr. Hill’s suicide attempts – a February overdose of muscle relaxers and a July incident when he put a shotgun under his chin and threatened to kill himself because DSS wanted him out of the home.
Later, DSS officials ordered Rebecca into the hospital because of her decreasing weight, Mrs. Hill testified.
Two weeks before the killings, Mrs. Hill was charged with driving under the influence and child endangerment, leading to a decision to move the twins to Mrs. Hill’s parents’ home. At the same time, she underwent hospital treatment for her own addiction to prescription drugs.
It was in the hospital that she called her husband and requested the divorce.
The same morning, a confused and incoherent David Hill received a call from his social worker, Jimmy Riddle, according to Mr. Riddle’s notes.
“He said he was very, very angry with the social worker,” who had accused him of molesting his daughter, Dr. Pincus said.
Defense attorneys have argued that the phone call pushed Mr. Hill over the edge.
Mrs. Hill did not say Friday whether she thought her husband should live or die for the DSS killings. She broke down on the stand when asked about Rebecca, who died June 2, 1998. Mrs. Hill did not say how.
During testimony, Mrs. Hill said she is living in Moores, S.C., with her twin sons. She has not finalized a divorce with Mr. Hill.
A jury convicted Mr. Hill on Tuesday of 11 felony counts related to the DSS shootings that killed Michael Gregory, 30, of Belvedere, and Josie Curry, 33, and Jimmy Riddle, 52, both of North Augusta, in the shootings.
The defense may wrap up its case today, opening the door for Solicitor Barbara Morgan to call a “reply” witness before the jury is asked to decide life or death.
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Mark David Hill executed Friday — (WISTV)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Twelve years finally came to a head Friday for David Mark Hill, as he was the 269th South Carolinian executed.
It all happened on the afternoon of Sept. 17, 1996 at a Department of Social Services office in North Augusta. That was the day three department workers were gunned down by Hill.
His victims were 30-year-old Michael Gregory, 33-year-old Josie Curry and 52-year-old Jimmy Riddle.
Hill was angry that DSS took away custody of his quadriplegic daughter and twin sons.
In his 1999 trial, Hill’s defense team tried to point out his depressed mental state, saying Hill wasn’t on his medication the day of the shootings. Witness testimony would ultimately sway the jury to hand down a death sentence.
Hill’s mental state was under question. During the tragic afternoon, Hill turned the gun on himself. His wound damaged part of his brain’s frontal lobe.
Hill could not make any facial expressions, but he was able to read a statement of apology during his trial.
Ultimately, he dropped all of his appeals and told the Supreme Court he deserved to die.
Reported by Brian DeRoy Posted by Jeremy Turnage