Cameron J. Hill

This Sunday will mark the third anniversary of Cassidy Hutchings’s death.

Hutchings was murdered Jan. 19, 2017. Cameron J. Hill, 28, of Union, is in custody at the Franklin County jail on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Authorities allege that Hill attacked Hutchings at Reiker Ford Road along the Bourbeuse River Jan. 19, 2017. According to reports, Hill, Cassidy Hutchings’ ex-boyfriend, allegedly stabbed her and cut her throat with a knife as she tried to flee from him into the river.

After he cut Hutchings’ throat, Hill allegedly chased her into the river where he stabbed her multiple times in the back of her head, neck and back.

Hutchings’ body was recovered from the Bourbeuse River Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, when a passerby saw the body and contacted authorities. Her vehicle was parked near the river access, authorities said.

Hutchings, of Villa Ridge, was 23 at the time of her death.

Hill was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury in March 2017.

Jim Hutchings, Cassidy’s father, said the family is still waiting for a trial so it can have some closure.

Hill was scheduled to go on trial in December 2019, but that was delayed. Jim Hutchings said the delay is frustrating because the family has been waiting years for a resolution.

“We cannot heal until we have justice,” he said.

Hutchings does not blame Franklin County Prosecutor Matt Becker, who took office last year, for the delay. He said Becker has done a good job handling the case.

Still Hutchings wonders why things are taking so long.

Trial Delay

Becker said he understands Hutchings’ frustrations.

“There’s nothing more important than this case,” he said. “I’ll move family vacations, anything to get this case over with.”

Becker said scheduling a trial, even under normal circumstances, is complicated. There’s a lot of moving parts involved.

In a normal case, the prosecutor and attorney need to make their schedules line up.

This case has an added wrinkle because it will be handled by 23rd Circuit Judge Victor J. Melenbrink. The judge currently serves Jefferson County.

Becker said in order to get a trial going, Judge Melenbrink has to be available for three days when he’s not needed in Jefferson County.

Another wrinkle is space. There are currently enough court- rooms for each Franklin County judge at the courthouse, but there’s not an extra one just waiting to be used when an out-of-county judge is brought in.

Plus, of the courtrooms available, only two can handle jury trials.

“A lot of things have to line up,” Becker said.

A trial for Hill is tentatively scheduled for the end of July, he said.

No Closure

Hutchings said the family has been disappointed about the process. The family had hoped the December trial would offer a resolution, but that didn’t happen after the public defender for Hill was granted a delay.

Hutchings said the family previously was let down by the justice system when former Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks offered Hill a plea deal that would have reduced the charges to second-degree murder in exchange for a guilty plea.

Hill would have then been sentenced to 25 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Presiding 20th Circuit Judge Ike Lamke rejected the deal.

After Judge Lamke rejected the deal, Hill’s attorneys filed a motion seeking his recusal from the case. Judge Lamke and later Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann recused themselves from the case leading the way for Judge Melenbrink to take over.

In May, Judge Melenbrink ruled that the trial will remain in Franklin County. The request for a change of venue came from Hill’s defense attorney.