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The Missouri Court of Appeals has affirmed the 2009 murder conviction of James Earl Hitchcock, 48, of Ava.
Hitchcock was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2008 shooting and beating death of Wendell Hillhouse, 42, of Branson, along a county road in Douglas County.
Hitchcock was sentenced to 25 years on the murder charge and 10 years for the armed criminal action.
The case was prosecuted by then Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wade who left office Dec. 31, 2010. Hitchcock was represented by defense attorney Roger Wall, of Ava, who became Douglas County Prosecutor on Jan. 1.
Judge John Moody, 44th Judicial Circuit, presided over the four-day trial.
Hitchcock appealed his conviction claiming “the trial court erred by allowing the state to introduce improper ‘other crimes and bad acts evidence’ and refusing to allow defendant’s expert witness to opine that victim could not have been shot in the manner described by defendant’s ex-wife.”
On Jan. 12, the Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District released its finding that “the trial court did not abuse its discretion concerning the allowable scope of…testimony.”
The opinion was written by Judge Don E. Burrell.