George Hayden Murder Conviction Overturned

A former eastern carolina police chief serving life behind bars for a murder conviction could walk out of prison a free man, after an appeals court overturned the conviction.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals says the prosecution did not show enough evidence that George Hayden had the means or opportunity to kill Marine Sgt. William Miller.

Prosecutors say the murder was an ambush triggered by a love triangle involving Miller's wife at the time. William Morgan, who was Hayden's attorney during the trial, says this is something he's been waiting for since the day the verdict was read.

"I've been practicing law 42 years and it was probably the most disappointing jury verdict I had to sit with but I told George that day: George I think it's going to be reversed and it makes me very happy that it has been reversed," said Morgan.

"I've already made contact with the Attorney General's Office today. We're requesting the Attorney General's Office seek review by the North Carolina Supreme Court of the decision of the North Carolina Court of Appeals," said Onslow County District Attorney Ernie Lee.

The state Supreme Court is not required by law to hear this case since it was a unanimous vote by the Court of Appeals. They have 20 days to make a decision, or Hayden could go free.

The Onslow County district attorney says he is asking that the Attorney General's Office appeal a court ruling that overturns a former police chief's murder conviction.

The state Court of Appeals threw out last year's first-degree murder conviction of George Hayden for the 1972 shooting death of a Marine.

The court ruled unamiously that said state prosecutors hadn't shown enough evidence that George Hayden had the opportunity or means to kill Sgt. William Miller. Hayden is serving a life sentence for what prosecutors have said was an ambush triggered by a love triangle involving Miller's wife at the time.

Hayden could be released in 20 days unless state prosecutors ask the North Carolina Supreme Court to hear the case.

Hayden was fired as police chief in Belhaven in March 2008 in an unrelated matter, and prior to that was chief in Cape Carteret. He was arrested for the Miller murder six months after being let go in Belhaven.

Hayden's attorney says she is happy for her client, who has consistently said he was innocent.

Two other people charged in Miller's death had charges dropped after Hayden's conviction. Prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to proceed with trial for Vickie Babbitt and Rodger Gill.

Babbitt was married to Miller when he was killed and then married Hayden.

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  • by wade Location: enc on Jun 8, 2011 at 11:01 AM
    you can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwhich if you want them to
    • reply
      by Jack on Jun 9, 2011 at 04:52 AM in reply to wade
      Wade simply letting G know the evidence was looked at before going to trial as he/she was concerned NC money was wasted. Let's just get rid of the Grand Jury all together and Juror trials too!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 8, 2011 at 09:06 AM
    How long has he been in jail?
  • by G on Jun 7, 2011 at 04:18 PM
    Isn't the jury supposed to decide if the evidence supported a guilty verdict? I mean, why bother with jury trials if you can overturn a verdict based on the amount of evidence. Or better yet, have a judge view and decide if the evidence is enough to convict BEFORE the money for a jury trial is wasted.
    • reply
      by Jack on Jun 8, 2011 at 06:33 AM in reply to G
      The evidence was looked at by the Grand Jury before going to trial to make sure the state had enough...they said "yes" and the DA moved forward to trial. 12 Jurors heard the evidence and also agreed and convicted.
  • by Dane Hoover Location: St.Augustine ,Fl on Jun 7, 2011 at 03:12 PM
    I actually had a chance to work with this man while he was going through his pre trials and everything.He has always deined guilt and never given any other reason to believe other words.Ive been following this closely and Im glad that the courts finally made the right decision.Now he can finally have his life back and njoy the rest of his days.As far as him being above the law I never once got that impression.He was always fair and just.And to those talking out the side of their head learn your facts before you start typing comments about people you dont know.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 7, 2011 at 02:56 PM
    • reply
      by you talking to me ?? on Jun 7, 2011 at 08:30 PM in reply to
      Ive known what Ive done and there more to follow,,
  • by Ed Location: williamston on Jun 7, 2011 at 02:23 PM
    Another case of "I am the law,therefore i am above the law.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 7, 2011 at 01:46 PM
    I love it! Whenever it's a former cop or a current cop; all the cops friends and family holler innocence, but cops will never hear such of thing if they got a hunch somebody committed a crime. Yes, they do get the bad guy and often, but they never believe they got the wrong person when they operate on a hunch and seek to prove from there. It's about time on got the taste of their own medicine. Maybe he knows how it feels now. Sad thing is cops send the wrong people up everyday, but cops get covered up and supported when they commit crimes.
    • reply
      by robert on Jun 8, 2011 at 02:57 PM in reply to
      Don't judge all cops by just a few.
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jun 7, 2011 at 01:40 PM
    George was railroaded from the very beginning starting with certain power elite in Belhaven. He did a good job and those people didn't like it when he served warrants on their kinfolk.
    • reply
      by fred on Jun 7, 2011 at 03:28 PM in reply to Mike
      that is because he would only serve half the town
    • reply
      by Kathy on Jun 7, 2011 at 05:41 PM in reply to Mike
      Power elite in Belhaven? Come on now, you know there is no such a thing in that podunk out of the woods crossroads.
  • by Dave Location: Law Enforcement 21 yrs on Jun 7, 2011 at 10:54 AM
    To LEO...Please tell us you are not in Law Enforcement now because you are the type that gives REAL COPS a bad name. Cowardly comments that you are to chicken to sign your name to. You must have missed the part of your class where you sign everything you document.
    • reply
      by Andy Nonomus on Jun 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM in reply to Dave
      Dave - I have only seen one person on this page use what appears to be a real name. If you want LEO to give his, how about give your full name and location?
      • reply
        by Dave Miller on Jun 7, 2011 at 02:41 PM in reply to Andy Nonomus
        And I am from New Bern. Now Andy Nonomus lets see if you will give yours.
  • by bj on Jun 7, 2011 at 10:47 AM
    How do you convict someone without a reasonable doubt and then its turned around the court of appeals for lack of evidence. Where is justice for this man? And to Leo were you there? Just because you dont like someone does not make you have no right to judge.
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