In this April 3, 2008 file photo, Gary Michael Hilton appears at the Lamar County Superior Courthouse in Barnesville, Ga.
Serial killer Gary Michael Hilton, already serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of Buford hiker Meredith Emerson, received four additional life sentences Thursday for the 2007 slayings of an elderly North Carolina couple.
Hilton, 66, pled guilty in March 2012 to kidnapping, robbing and murdering the couple, John and Irene Bryant, who he ambushed while they were hiking in the Pisgah National Forest. The plea deal allowed him to avoid the death penalty in North Carolina, but he still faces a death sentence in Florida for a 2007 murder.
"He will spend the rest of his life and die in a cage or at the hands of a Florida executioner," the North Carolina victims' daughter, Holly Bryant, told the Asheville Citizen-Times after Thursday's ruling. "He'll never be able to hurt anyone else."
Hilton's death sentence in Florida came for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap, a nurse whose beheaded body was discovered in the Apalachicola National Forest in 2007. His Georgia life sentence came for the murder of Emerson, whose friends have kept her memory alive through the Right to Hike Foundation.
Hilton has now been convicted of killing four people in a three-month span. In 2011, a Florida jury unanimously convicted him for the Dunlap murder and recommended a life sentence.
“I am glad that Hilton will soon be in Florida’s custody on death row,” Dunlap's cousin, Gloria Tucker, told the Tallahassee Democrat. “However, I feel that the proceedings in North Carolina were a complete waste of time and an insult to the Bryant family.”
Details of Hilton's transfer to Florida haven't been made public, but he is expected to return there soon to face the death penalty.