Merlyn Hoesly, age 58 of Simpson, was back in Mitchell County District Court on Friday for a pretrial hearing pursuant to charges of first degree murder, as an accessory, in the brutal killing of Darrell Hill of Asherville in July of 2015. It is not believed that Hoesly was a participant in the actual murder of Mr. Hill, but he is suspected of somehow conspiring in the crime at some level. This would make him an accessory to the killing, and therefore subject to a murder charge.
Trevin Lee Paul Spencer, a California native and former Simpson resident, was convicted and sentenced to more than 26 years in prison in November. He confessed to attacking Mr. Hill at his home while using a hammer to bludgeon him before ultimately cutting his throat. Hoesly is the ex-son-in-law of the late Mr. Hill.
On September 9 of last year, new evidence surfaced implicating Hoesly as an additional suspect in the series of events which led to the killing of Mr. Hill. This caused a delay in the Spencer trial which was scheduled to start the following week. Spencer cooperated with authorities at some level to implicate Hoesly, which led to a reduction in his charge of first degree murder to the second degree murder charge. Spencer had initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charge of first degree murder. He later pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of second degree murder for which he was convicted and sentenced for in November as well as an additional charge of aggravated burglary. Those convictions are running concurrently, totaling his 26 year plus sentence.
Two additional informants exist, and they were the focus of much of the discussion and motions filed by Hoesly’s defense attorney Jeff Adam who is a public defender out of Salina. One of the informants was identified as Austin Virrus, who also provided information to authorities during the Spencer proceedings. Mr. Virrus is believed to be a Nebraska native, but his ties Spencer and/or Hoesly are unclear. He was, however, a student at NCK Tech about nine years ago according to sources at the technical college. The identity of the other informant had not been released prior to the hearing on Friday.
Mr. Adam made a series of motions including a request that the State, via Mitchell County Attorney Mark Noah, not release any prior criminal history of Mr. Hoesly. Mr. Noah said he did not think it should matter in terms of relevance. Adam also requested disclosure of the unnamed informant. Judge Kim Cudney granted the request, but the identity of the second informant was not presented during the hearing. Requests for that information are still pending at this time.
Adam also made a motion requesting any criminal history of the informants be provided to him. Presumably, to be potentially used in attempts to discredit their testimony. That request was also granted by Judge Cudney. Hoesly’s trial is set for later this month on March 27, 28 and 29.