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Court Upholds Woman’s Murder Conviction In Arsenic Poisoning Case

December 20, 1985

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the murder conviction of a woman who faked her own death in an unsuccessful bid to escape trial on charges she poisoned her husband and daughter.

The court voted 8-0 to reject a defense request for a new trial for Audrey Marie Hilley, who is serving a life sentence.

The 52-year-old former Anniston resident was convicted in 1983 of murder in the 1975 arsenic poisoning death of her husband, Frank Hilley, and of attempted murder in the 1979 arsenic poisoning of her daughter, Carol Hilley, then 19. Carol Hilley recovered.

The Supreme Court devoted most of its ruling to two defense claims focusing on a warrantless search of Mrs. Hilley’s purse and a search of containers provided by Frank Hilley’s sister, Freida Adcock.

The search of the purse, which contained medicine vials with traces of arsenic, did not infringe Mrs. Hilley’s privacy, the court ruled. The justices said the law was not violated when Mrs. Adcock agreed to a scientific analysis of items she gave police.

Mrs. Hilley’s case took a bizarre turn when she disappeared while free on bond in November 1979.

She took the name Robbi Hannon, married John Homan in Florida and moved with him to New Hampshire, authorities said. She then traveled alone to Texas, where she faked her own death and returned to Homan saying she was his late wife’s twin sister, Teri Martin.

She began living with Homan again, and placed an obituary for Robbi Homan in a New Hampshire newspaper.

A detective who saw the obituary found that it did not check out. That led to Mrs. Hilley’s arrest in January 1983, and the discovery that she was a fugitive from Alabama.

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