Hill’s wife disputes accounts

The wife of Edward Allen Hill disputes accounts of what happened during a double-murder back in 1989.

Kim Hill, who said she knew Edward Hill for a long, long time before marrying him, explained that former Belmont County Sheriff Tom McCort had his facts confused in a previous story that appeared in The Times Leader.

Hill, a co-defendant of Donald Lester “Duke” Palmer, received a double life sentence for his actions. Palmer recently received the death penalty for his part in the murders of Charles W. Sponhaltz and Steven R. Vargo. He is scheduled to be executed on September of 2012.

“It was a traffic accident that went really bad,” Kim Hill said earlier this week. “It wasn’t intentional.”

She said her husband and Palmer, who were brothers-in-law, were just out driving around when her husband rear-ended a vehicle driven by Sponhaltz on County Road 2, also known as Deep Run Road, just off of Ohio 647 near the Belmont-Jefferson County line.

After the accident, Palmer shot Sponhaltz when he got out of his vehicle. Hill said her husband took off running because he was scared, and only returned because it was his vehicle they were driving.

It was at that point when the pair was loading Sponhaltz’s body into his truck that Vargo happened to drive by. Palmer then shot Vargo when he stopped to see if he could help.

“Eddie wasn’t even there when Mr. Vargo was shot,” Kim Hill reported.

According to Kim Hill, her husband had never met Mr. Sponhaltz or Mr. Vargo before their encounter on that May afternoon 22 years ago.

She also disputed accounts from McCort that her husband was belligerent and uncooperative.

“That wasn’t Eddie. That was Duke,” she stressed. “Eddie wasn’t belligerent and never has been.”

She said her husband is a smaller guy and that Palmer was the larger of the two. “He was kind of scared of Duke.”

She added that jailers at the Belmont County Jail testified during the trial that her husband was a ‘model prisoner’ and not belligerent.

McCort was quoted as saying in the previous story that Palmer led authorities to several pieces of evidence.

“That’s all wrong,” Kim Hill stated. “The gun that was used has never been found. Eddie didn’t even touch the gun, and it was Eddie that took them to the evidence. I don’t understand how the sheriff could get these facts wrong.”

She said that the clothes Hill and Palmer had on that day were never found, as well.

McCort also said that Palmer confessed on the way back from Columbus, where the pair had been arrested.

“Duke confessed in Columbus before they ever started coming back to Belmont County,” Kim Hill said.

Edward Hill is still serving his sentence in the Warren Correctional Institute near Cincinnati. According to his wife, he has run out of appeals and won’t be eligible for parole until 2049.

“No one ever believed that Eddie did the killings,” she added. “There is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about the victims’ families.”

She went on to say that since her husband has been incarcerated, he has entered a program called “4 Paws for Humanity,” in which he trains dogs for handicapped children in wheelchairs.

“His supervisor evens gives him some of her dogs to train,” Kim Hill said. “She also said she has seen changes in Eddie over the 10 years he has been involved with the program.”

North can be reached at