Judge orders new trial for Bill Hawk in Cold Case

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Judge Don Poole on Tuesday ordered a new trial for a man convicted just a few years ago for a murder that happened in 1981.

Bill Hawk was accused of killing Johnny Mack Salyer 38 years ago.

But he was not tried and convicted for the murder until 2016.

The long, unsolved killing was revived by the Hamilton County Cold Case team.

And Hawk was convicted in June of 2016 and given a life sentence.

But new attorneys asked the court to throw out the conviction for numerous reasons.

Ultimately, Judge Poole settle on the key testimony of Detective Slaughter, who was later fired for lying on the stand and was deemed a “bad cop” by a former District Attorney.

The defense called the former D-A, Gary Gerbitz to testify about Slaughter in the Hawk trial.

The key moment in the trial that Judge Poole seized on was prosecutor Neil Pinkston’s cross examination of Gerbitz.

Pinkston asked Gerbitz if he was aware that Slaughter had passed multiple lie detector tests.

The judge points out that the results polygraphy tests are not allowed in trials.

He faults District Attorney General Pinkston for bringing it up, and Hawk’s attorneys for not properly objecting to it.

The judge denied the request to through out the conviction, but he has ordered a new trial.

Hawk will go back to court in a few weeks to determine if he should be released on bond until then.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News

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