Opening statements, testimony begin in trial for GA man accused of murder

Johnathan Hillary Trial

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The trial is underway for a Georgia man accused of killing a retired police officer in 2016 in Horry County.

On Wednesday, jurors heard opening statements and testimony in the case.

Johnathan Hillary is facing four charges in connection to the kidnapping and shooting death of Timothy Buckley.

The 51-year-old’s body was found in near Tanger Outlets off of 501 nearly two months after he was reported missing.

“His version of events is going to tailored to one of the three defenses of murder: It was an accident. Accident? Center shot to the back of the head? Or, it was self defense. Well, was he coming at him backwards? And it wasn’t me it was someone else,” said Assistant Solicitor Jonathan Miles.

“No matter what the contempt that Mr. Miles has for Mr. Hillary, not one single thing he said was evidence. Evidence, ladies and gentleman, will be presented from right here and any exhibits or physical items the defense gives you to convince you beyond a reasonable doubt,” defense attorney Scott Joye.

Buckley’s oldest daughter was first to testify on Wednesday. She relived the day her father disappeared. She explained, she knew something was wrong when her father didn’t pick her sister up from cheerleading practice.

“I was at work so I sent him a text and I didn’t hear anything back, so I called him and it went straight to voicemail. Then I automatically knew something was wrong,” she said. “If one of us called he would always answer.”

Police said Buckley disappeared along with his new Ford F-50 truck on September 29, 2016. His truck was later found on 29th Avenue North by two friends who came to Myrtle Beach from New York to look for him. That man recalled finding the truck.

“I went around the other side and that’s when I looked in and I could see a major amount of blood, what looked like blood, on the door panel. Like a lot and thick,” he said.

The trial concluded for the day after the 18-year-old boy who found the body testified. He said he first believed it was a dead animal.

Police believe Hillary was also responsible for another robbery months after Buckley was found dead. That victim will testify later this week.

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