PETERSBURG, Va. – It was the first day of testimony in the Alexander Hill murder trial. The jury, comprised of 13 women and two men, heard opening statements in a trial expected to take 10 days.
Hill is accused of killing four generations of one family on April 19, 2014, in a home on Harding Street in Petersburg.
Victims in the quadruple murder were Pauline Wilkins, her daughter Vicki Chavis Ansar, granddaughter Tanique Davis and great grandson Delvari Chavis; they were aged 67, 46, 22, and 2-year-old, respectively.
Hill’s connection to victims is that he was an ex-boyfriend of Vivian Chavis, who lived at the home, but was not there when the violence unfolded.
Commonwealth's Attorney Cheryl Wilson presented her opening statement to the jury early Thursday and laid out what she describes as a volatile relationship between Vivian Chavis and Hill, who she said was her on and off again boyfriend. It was a relationship she told the jury that became so divisive that Hill told her he was going to kill her and everything she loved.
Chavis left the home just a few hours before the murders and deadly fire.
The defense attempted to prove their client’s innocence by saying that video and pictures show what happened but not who did it. The defense also said police were in a hurry to find a suspect and evidence; evidence they said was mishandled.
The defense also said DNA found underneath the fingernails of two victim does not match Hill’s DNA.
Before court adjourned Thursday at Alexander Hill’s murder trial, the jurors listened to a 911 call from inside the home the night of the murders.
Then they watched a video from the helmet camera of a fire captain who was inside the home fighting the fire when he found two of the four bodies inside.
The jury also heard testimony from police officers, a dispatcher, and a firefighter.
Hill was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after the murders. He disappeared for a year and was captured in a homeless shelter at a church in Buffalo, New York in April 2015.
The capital murder trial will no longer be a death penalty case, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors declined to say why they were no longer pursuing the death penalty, citing pre-trial publicity which could influence potential jurors.