Originally created 05/04/02

Judge denies rapist's plea change



A Grovetown man will remain in prison for the rape of an 11-year-old girl, a Columbia County Superior Court Judge ruled Friday.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet refused to allow Jeremy Wayne Hills to withdraw his guilty plea for the 2000 rape of a Harlem Middle School pupil.

Mr. Hills, 27, pleaded guilty in May 2001 to rape. Authorities said the Grovetown man lured the girl to his home and forced her to have sex with him.

Mr. Hills took the stand during the hearing and said he had been misinformed about the sentence he would receive when he pleaded guilty. He told the judge his attorneys, Buddy Dallas and John Fleming, told him the state's case against him was overwhelming and said he should sign the plea agreement.

"I told (Mr. Dallas) I would sign the plea agreement if I would be eligible for parole in seven years," Mr. Hills said. He said Mr. Dallas met with the district attorney and said everything was set to sign the papers.

Mr. Hills said he wasn't told of the penalties until after the agreement and waiver of rights form was signed.

Defense attorney Ronald Garnett asked Mr. Hills if he knew what he was doing when he signed the agreement and waiver of rights. Mr. Hills answered, "No."

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright told the judge a mental evaluation had been conducted on Mr. Hills and he was found to be competent to stand trial.

Mr. Hills admits to having sexual intercourse with the girl, but says it was consensual.

"I am not capable of forcing myself on anybody," Mr. Hills said.

Judge Overstreet told the defendant the court would stand by its original sentence.

Mr. Hills is serving a life sentence at Valdosta State Prison.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552 or ashlee.griggs@augustachronicle.com.