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Hill expected in court for motions Monday

JONESBORO — Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill is due back in court Monday to argue a variety of motions in advance of his Nov. 26 trial.

Hill, 47, faces a 37-count felony indictment and years in prison if convicted. Charges include theft by taking, lying to police, influencing witnesses and racketeering. The allegations are connected to his term in office. He is being represented by Jonesboro attorney Steve Frey.

Hill served as the county’s first black sheriff from 2005 to 2008 when he lost a re-election bid to challenger Kem Kimbrough. Hill ran against Kimbrough in July and defeated him in an August run-off by 1,772 votes.

Hill was considered the sheriff-elect until Tuesday, when Clayton sheriff’s Chief Deputy Garland Watkins qualified as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 6 election. Watkins came in third behind Kimbrough and Hill in the 2008 sheriff’s race, garnering 14 percent of the vote.

Until the trial date was set, there were questions surrounding Hill’s eligibility to take office Jan. 1 under the cloud of indictment. If Watkins is successful as a write-in candidate, the issue is moot. If Hill prevails, he will enter the courtroom Nov. 26 as sheriff-elect.

Whether he’s sworn in Jan. 1 depends on the outcome of that trial. If exonerated, Hill takes office without issue and presumably carries out his duties as sheriff for the next four years.

If convicted of just one felony, he would become ineligible to hold office. Gov. Nathan Deal would appoint an interim sheriff and a special election may be held to fill out the term. Georgia Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Terry Norris said Kimbrough, among others, would be considered a viable candidate for the interim position.