Tuesday, August 16, 2016
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Forrest Dakota Hill, 23, of Easley, South Carolina, was sentenced to federal prison today for 200 months for the 2015 murder of a male victim on federal land, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger also ordered Hill to serve five years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.
U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, Steven Kloster, Chief Ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Chief James Dike Sneed of the Cherokee Indian Police Department (CIPD).
According to court filings, plea documents and today’s sentencing hearing, on March 29, 2015, CIPD received a 911 call alerting officers to a stabbing that had taken place inside Oconaluftee Baptist Church, commonly known as the Smokemont Baptist Church, located within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Court records indicate that paramedics responding to the scene determined that the male victim had been stabbed and was deceased. According to court records, Hill, the victim and another individual drove to the church together, and over the course of their visit, Hill stabbed the victim with a knife during an unprovoked attack, causing the victim’s death. Following the fatal stabbing, Hill and his companion left the church and returned to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino where they picked up a companion and then departed for another local hotel.
According to court records, the victim was stabbed at least 16 times in the chest, back, neck and elsewhere. Court records indicate that the victim’s cause of death was “internal hemorrhage due to multiple stab wounds.”
“It takes a depraved person to kill another human being, but an evil one to carry out the murder inside a religious institution founded upon the belief in the sanctity of human life,” said U.S. Attorney Rose. “While we can never replace their loved one, we hope that Hill’s lengthy prison term will bring closure to the victim’s family and friends.”
“Today’s sentence ensures that a killer has been taken off our streets. I want to thank NPS and CIPD for their invaluable assistance with this investigation. This case is an example of federal and tribal law enforcement working together to bring justice to the citizens of western North Carolina,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Strong.
“The National Park Service appreciates the coordination and cooperation of all involved agencies to bring this case to a successful prosecution,” said Chief Ranger Kloster.
Hill pleaded guilty to a second degree murder charge in April 2016. He is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was handled by the FBI, NPS and CIPD. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pritchard of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.