Evidence missing in ‘hit man’ Hutto appeal

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 8, 2015

The death row appeal of an Alabama man convicted of capital murder in the kidnapping and slaying of a Clinton woman he met at a Vicksburg casino has been returned to Hinds County Circuit Court over missing evidence.

The Mississippi Supreme Court announced Thursday that the appeal of James Cobb Hutto III, 43, of Jasper, Ala., would be returned to the lower court to address three discs containing full-length interview recordings that were missing from evidence and “represented by paper copies of the faces of the discs.”

“Hinds County records indicate that the discs may have been sent to the court. The court’s records indicate that the discs may have been received,” Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller wrote in the court order. “… The discs however, are missing.”

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Death penalty cases receive an automatic appeal to the court.

Hutto, who told Alabama authorities upon his arrest that he was a known as “hit man Hutto,” was found guilty of capital murder May 27, 2013, in the death of 81-year-old Ethel Winstead Simpson of Clinton.

Simpson was last seen alive Sept. 13, 2010, when she and Hutto were leaving Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg together.

Her body was found four days later near a hog farm in Edwards. Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said Simpson died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Hutto also faces a murder trial in Alabama in the death of his 68-year-old great aunt, Virginia “Faye” Rardon, of Birmingham.

Raron was found bludgeoned to death in the bedroom of her home Sept. 16, 2010. It was unclear how long her body had been in the home.

In October 2010, officials in both states agreed to let Hutto be brought to trial first in Hinds County.

He also faces charges of attempted murder and robbery in the stabbing of an Auburn, Ala., man.

The killings and stabbing are the latest in a long, violent history for Hutto. In 2002, he was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old in Walker County, Ala. and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He served three years and six months before he was released in 2005.