United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Gary Michael Hilton was sentenced to four life sentences today in U.S. District Court for the kidnapping and murder of John D. Bryant and Irene W. Bryant and to 15 years in prison for a related robbery offense, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Hilton pleaded guilty to the murdering the couple in March 2012. He also pleaded guilty to robbery, kidnapping and firearms offenses.
In June 2011, a federal grand jury returned a five-count criminal indictment charging Hilton, 66, with the October 2007 kidnapping, robbery and murder of John and Irene Bryant on national forest lands. According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, Hilton admitted killing John Bryant within the Nantahala National Forest in Macon County, N.C. using a firearm. Hilton also admitted killing John Bryant’s spouse, Irene Bryant, within the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County, N.C.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and while today’s outcome cannot bring back John and Irene Bryant, it is our sincere hope that everyone impacted by Hilton’s heinous crime can finally have some closure,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. “I also want to thank the prosecutors and our law enforcement partners who worked on this case for their hard work, professionalism and integrity.”
In April 2011, Hilton was convicted and received a death sentence for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap in Leon County, Florida. Hilton is also serving a life sentence for his conviction related to the 2008 murder of Meredith Emerson in Northern Georgia. At today’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger ordered that Hilton’s federal life sentences be served consecutively with the sentences he received for the state convictions in Florida and Georgia.
All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The prosecution was handled by Don Gast of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville. U.S. Attorney Tompkins thanked the FBI, SBI, the U.S. Forest Service, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this investigation.