||Video shows moments before man died
By Taylor Messick
Last Updated: February 23, 2017
By Taylor Messick
A preliminary hearing in the torture and murder of Scottie Goodpaster Jr. continued Feb. 10 in Sedgwick County District Court as prosecutors introduced surveillance video footage of the moments before Goodpaster died.
Also, prosecutors and defendants will return to Sedgwick County District Court Feb. 22 to hear evidence in a new round of charges.
The judge is expected to determine whether the case against Jeff Hillard, Heidi Hillard and Willie Morris will move forward to arraignment and a possible trial.
The preliminary hearing began two weeks ago as prosecutors used key witnesses to present a shocking case against the defendants that involved drugs, torture, sexual assault and murder.
The three are accused of torturing and killing Goodpaster Nov. 6 behind the Hillards' residence in the 1300 block of South Meridian in Valley Center.
Jeff Hillard's former brother-in-law, Craig Bright, testified that Jeff came to his home the day of the crime looking disheveled with blood on his hands. Bright said Jeff asked him to help stash something and wouldn't give much detail, but hinted at a violent crime. It prompted Bright to call police.
Goodpaster's former girlfriend testified. She claimed to have been abducted by the Hillards and another suspect, Alexandria Scott, before being bound and sexually assaulted by the Hillards. This allegedly occurred while the husband and wife interrogated her about an alleged "setup" with law enforcement that Goodpaster was supposed to have been plotting against the Hillards. This led to Goodpaster's girlfriend witnessing his murder.
New details emerged last week as two witnesses completed their testimony. One of them was Brian Bussart, who was on the property during a portion of the torture of Goodpaster. Bussart said he helped Jeff Hillard and Morris dispose of Goodpaster's body.
It was initially unclear whether Goodpaster planned to set up the Hillards with law enforcement. But Bussart revealed during the defense team's cross examination that Goodpaster later confessed to plotting a "setup" against the Hillards. Bussart alleged that the plan was that the Hillards' children would be taken away and they would be arrested, which would potentially leave their property open for theft.
This seemed to back up the notion only recently revealed during the hearing that the missing $185 in drug money was not the reason for the conflict between Goodpaster and the Hillards. Bussart even testified during cross examination that all parties were aware that night that Goodpaster's girlfriend's brother, Andrew, had been arrested after obtaining the $185 for a methamphetamine buy.
Bussart added another piece to the puzzle during cross examination. He testified that the Hillards had lost another $600 in a previous methamphetamine transaction just a few weeks earlier; he also said that the deal was being done through a friend of Goodpaster. Although Bussart claimed that losing money in the methamphetamine world is fairly common, this would seem to further complicate the relationship between Goodpaster and the Hillards.
The other witness who testified on Feb. 10 was Sedgwick County sheriff's investigator Tiffany Moreland. Moreland's investigation helped provide clues and evidence from the scene of the crime that largely backed up the testimony of the previous witnesses. She provided pictures of the murder weapons and substantial amounts of blood at the scene. Even more revealing, however, was video evidence provided from security cameras at the scene that were installed by Bussart just a month earlier.
Footage found during the investigation containing audio and video was shown in court. The footage showed that Goodpaster was still alive around 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 6. A voice that was presumably Goodpaster's could be heard screaming in fear before he was seen running out of the shed where the torture took place, according to prosecutors. He ran up the driveway on the north side of the house toward Meridian before he was chased down and tackled by Jeff Hillard at the top of the frame. Morris went near the two men and it appeared as if he and Jeff Hillard were holding Goodpaster down while beating him.
Shortly after, Goodpaster's girlfriend could be seen retrieving a child's wagon from outside the frame and wheeling it to the men. A white, four-door pickup drove into the driveway and parked next to the men while blocking their view from the camera. Witnesses testified that Bussart was returning from Kwik Shop in Valley Center where he bought cigarettes.
Immediately following the truck, a black, four-door car entered the driveway and Heidi Hillard's young daughters got out; Heidi rushed over with Goodpaster's girlfriend and directed her daughters and the other passengers inside the house. According to testimony, the footage showed what happened right before Goodpaster was loaded onto the floor of the white, four-door pickup. Witnesses said Goodpaster likely died shortly after leaving the residence while Jeff Hillard, Morris and Bussart drove to Bright's house to attempt to stash the body.
Moreland testified that Goodpaster's body was found on 72nd Street in Harvey County. She said his body was still suspended off the ground where Jeff Hillard had hung Goodpaster from a tree with rope.
The prosecution team announced that it had sufficient evidence to bring two more charges against some of the defendants. These charges were conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines. Prosecutors will lay out the case for those charges when the preliminary hearing continues on Feb. 22.