After Hittson hit Utterbeck on the head with a baseball bat, Vollmer handed Hittson a handgun and told him to shoot Utterbeck. Hittson then fired a fatal shot into Utterbeck’s forehead, and he and Vollmer cut up Utterbeck’s body and buried buried the remains in different places.
The clemency petition says Vollmer exercised "unnatural dominance and control" over Hittson and manipulated him into killing Utterbeck.
Separately, Hittson’s lawyers will appeal a state court judge’s decision, denying a request to throw out Hittson’s death sentence. But a Butts County judge denied that request and Hittson’s lawyers are expected to appeal that decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.
“Mr. Hittson was robbed of a fair and reliable sentencing trial when the prosecutor was permitted to sandbag the defense with the testimony of a state psychologist, Dr. Robert Storms, who revealed off-the-cuff but nevertheless callous statements allegedly made by Mr. Hittson about the victim, during a pre-trial evaluation,” the petition said.
During the trial, the trial judge had said he would not let Storms take the stand unless Hittson’s lawyers presented psychiatric mitigation evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial, the petition said. Even though Hittson’s defense team did not present such evidence, the judge let Storms testify anyway, the petition said.
For this reason, Hittson’s defense team “was utterly disarmed by the prosecution’s tactic, abetted by the trial court’s disregard of both governing law and its own assurances,” the petition said.