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Drifter pleads not guilty in killing of NC couple

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By TOM BREEN
Associated Press

ASHEVILLE, NC (AP) -- A man accused of killing two elderly hikers in a western North Carolina national forest has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Gary Michael Hilton appeared Monday in Asheville federal court to face charges of robbery, kidnapping and murder in the deaths of Irene and John Bryant.

The 65-year-old wore a white Buncombe County jail jumpsuit and did not speak during the proceeding. One of his lawyers entered his plea for him.

A Sept. 6 trial date has been scheduled.

Prosecutors say Hilton camped out in forests across the Southeast, lying in wait to rob and kill hikers.

Hilton has been previously convicted of murders in Georgia and Florida. In the latter case, he was sentenced to death. Prosecutors in North Carolina could also seek the death penalty.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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