Murderer Loses Appeal

A Georgia man convicted by a Panama City federal court jury of burning down his Atlanta area home will remain in prison the rest of his life.

The Georgia Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of convicted murderer Butch Hinton. The justices upheld Hinton's conviction and life sentence in the death of a 19-year-old Emory University student named Shannon Melindi.

Melindi disappeared in 1994 after leaving a Decatur softball field where she and Hinton both worked.

Although Melindi's body was never found, prosecutors suspected Hinton.

In 1996, a Panama City federal court jury found Hinton guilty of arson for burning down his Atlanta home. Investigators believe he set the fire to destroy evidence in the Melindi case.

The judge moved the case to Panama City because of publicity in Georgia.

It was during his arson sentence that Hinton told fellow inmates about the Melindi murder. Based on the inmates' stories, prosecutors charged Hinton with Melindi's murder in 2004.

Those inmates were key witnesses against him in last year's murder trial.


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