Georgia Executes Killer Who Buried Victim in 2 States

Travis Hittson convicted in 1992 murder of Conway Utterbeck
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 18, 2016 7:47 AM CST
Georgia Executes Killer Who Buried Victim in 2 States
A family friend of Travis Hittson hugs Travis' mother just after he was executed.   (Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

A former Navy crewman was executed Wednesday in Georgia for killing a fellow sailor whose remains were found buried in two states. Travis Hittson, 45—convicted in the April 1992 killing of Conway Utterbeck—was declared dead at 8:14pm after receiving an injection of barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson. When asked if he wanted to make a final statement, Hittson said, "No, sir. I'm alright." Hittson blinked repeatedly for several minutes and then appeared to take several deep breaths before becoming still about four minutes after the warden left the execution chamber. The AP recounts the crime:

Hittson's lawyers had said he was mistreated as a child and constantly craved the approval of others. That, they said, combined with alcoholism and relatively low intelligence, made it easy for his direct supervisor in the Navy, Edward Vollmer, to manipulate him into killing Utterbeck while the three were visiting Vollmer's parents' home in central Georgia. Hittson told investigators he and Vollmer went out drinking one night and Vollmer said Utterbeck planned to kill them both and that they needed to "get him" first. Upon returning to the house, Hittson shot Utterbeck in the head, according to court filings. They buried Utterbeck's torso in Georgia and the rest of the remains in Pensacola, Florida, where they were stationed. Hittson confessed months later and also implicated Vollmer, who reached a plea deal and is serving a life sentence. (Read more Georgia stories.)

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