How Would Willie Have Gotten Home?

Ex-policeman, Vincent Hill, has grave concerns about the police investigation that followed the murders of which Willie Manning is convicted. Hill believes that the murders of two Mississippi State University students had the stamp of a crime of passion, as opposed to the interrupted burglary that the police formulated to account for the murders.

Speaking to Willie’s childhood friend, David Skato, Hill explains another of his concerns:

VH Now let me ask this. This was at Mississippi State that this occurred?
DS: Correct.
VH: Now how far was Willie living from Mississippi State at the time?
DS: Hmm, let’s see, probably that is about, it’s probably between 15 and 20 miles.
VH: OK. So, I guess my next question is, “He forces the victim into his car. Did police find the victim’s car at Willie’s house?
DS: No.
VH: So I guess we can assume… Where was the car found at?
DS: The car was found in the rural area where the bodies were.
VH: And how far is that from Willie’s house?
DS: Wow! THAT is far. Probably between 30… 30 odd miles… maybe 30, 40 miles.**
VH: So back to the ex-girlfriend… Did she ever tell police that he called me on Dec 11 from the payphone… and told me to drive 40 miles to pick him up?***
D.S.: I’ve never heard anything about that.
V.H.: OK. How would Willie have gotten from the rural area back to his house in the dead of night in December? And I know it gets pretty cold in Mississippi in December. To walk 40 miles is just a far stretch for anybody. I would hope that somebody along the way would have brought this up to say, “Well if the car was found by [i.e. next to] the victims, how did Willie get home?” … I’ve read a lot of reports that said this jailhouse witness said he confessed, this one said he had the gun, this one said this and that – not one person said this is how he got from the crime scene back to his house. So I think that’s a huge factor missing out of this case.

This is just one of the many missing factors in the prosecution’s version of events. It is time to admit this. It is time for justice for Willie.

*On the day before Willie’s scheduled execution in May 2013, Blog Talk Radio’s “The Other Side of Justice” featured a program about Willie, Dead Man Walking. The Willie Manning Case. In it Vincent Hill, a private investigator and ex-policeman, interviewed Willie’s childhood friend, David Skato, about the prosecution’s version of what happened when the two students were murdered. The interview does not start properly until 4 minutes into the recording. 16.30 indicates the timing of this extract on the audio.
**Skato seems to have overestimated this distance, which court documents give as ten miles, still a long way to walk.
See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on October 8 2001, page 14, ¶38 (page 33 of documents archived at this link).
***Willie’s ex-girfriend, Paula Hathorn, testified at trial that Willie was away from home from December 9 until December 14. However, when law enforcement secretly recorded her talking to Willie she
“did not dispute in any way Manning’s contention that he was at the 2500 Club the night of the students’ death and that he came home after being at the club.”
See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on October 8 2001, page 47, ¶130 (page 66 of documents archived at this link).
Willie’s account is further supported by the testimony of another witness, Lindell Grayer, who told the court that he picked Willie up from his home on the morning of December 11 and gave him a ride into town.
See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Mississippi Supreme Court on December 16 2004, page 10 (page 75 of documents archived at this link).
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