published Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Judge vacates death sentence for sailor

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — A federal judge has vacated the death sentence of a Navy sailor in the slaying and dismemberment of a shipmate two decades ago in central Georgia.

Travis Clinton Hittson was sentenced to death in 1993 after the killing of Conway Utterbeck, who was beaten with a baseball bat and shot. The Telegraph reports that the two were on leave from their ship and staying in Warner Robins.

Another shipmate, Edward Vollmer, was also charged with murder but reached a plea bargain and was sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. Middle District Court Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that Vollmer was more culpable in the crime, and convinced Hittson to participate in it.

The state must hold a new sentencing hearing or agree to a lesser sentence, the judge ruled.

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