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defendants found guilty in gruesome case

by brenda paiz

 

Chaos filled the courtroom as the jury found Hason Cleveland and Danielle Hilling guilty in the first degree murder of Ebony Brown.

They shot, bagged, boxed, buried, dug up, burned and then chopped Brown into three pieces on New Year's 2006.

Both Hilling and Cleveland were sentenced to life in prison and will reside in the West Virginia State Penitentiary.

The two were also found guilty of the charge conspiracy of murder in the first degree.

After hours of deliberation, the jury came to a decision at approximately 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.

After the jury announced the verdict, Hilling's mother burst into tears and began screaming, "I hate you Mega." Mega was Cleveland's nickname.

She shouted other profanities as she was escorted out of the courtroom.

Hilling then joined her mother in tears.

Cleveland remained calm and displayed no emotion.

Hilling's family began to comfort one another as she was asked to say any final comments before the jury.

Hilling said nothing.

Cleveland made a statement to the jury.

"I came before this court to prove my innocence," Cleveland said. "I don't blame the jury. I blame the prosecution for manipulating the evidence."

"As a man, I have to sit here and accept what you call justice, and now I am the criminal."

Cleveland specifically called out prosecuting attorney Marcia L. Ashdown for the manipulation of evidence.

After Cleveland's final statement, he sat with his head down as the jury was polled.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. the jury was dismissed and the convicted murderers were escorted out of the courtroom minutes after.

"We are very pleased with the jury's verdict and are appreciative that they took the time to look over all evidence," Ashdown said.

" I am dying to hear what evidence he is talking about. He had the right to apply any evidence he wanted during this trial," she said, referring to Cleveland.

 

Published April 2007, The Daily Athenaeum

www.thedaonline.com