NC man sentenced for role in 2015 Smokemont Baptist Church murder

- A Cherokee, NC man will spend four years in prison for his role in the 2015 murder of a male victim at Smokemont Baptist Church, officials said.

In addition to his sentence, Johnathan Hill was ordered to serve two years of supervised released upon completion of his prison term. 

According to court filings, plea documents and the 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 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Paramedics responding to the scene determined that the male victim had been stabbed and was deceased.  

According to court records, Johnathan Hill, Forrest Dakota Hill, and the victim drove to the church together.  Over the course of their visit, Forrest Hill stabbed the victim with a knife during an unprovoked attack, causing the victim’s death.  Court records show that the victim had been stabbed at least 16 times in the chest, back, neck and elsewhere.

Following the stabbing, Johnathan Hill and Forrest Hill, who are not related, drove away from Smokemont Baptist Church. Along the way, Johnathan Hill tossed through the car window the handle of the knife he believed to have been used in the attack. After that, the two men drove to the home of Johnathan Hill’s relatives, where the two men burned the clothes they wore during the stabbing.    

In December 2017, Johnathan Hill pleaded guilty to a charge of accessory after the fact to second degree murder. Forrest Hill was previously sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on second degree murder charges.  

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