Guilty Verdict in 2021 Murder Following Incident at Glynn County Detention Center
State v. Eric Lee Schermerhorn
July 26, 2023
District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that Eric Lee Schermerhorn, 38, of Brunswick, was found guilty of Malice Murder, two counts of Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery for the 2021 murder of Frederick Luke Hutto, 52, also of Brunswick. The criminal jury trial in Glynn County Superior Court started on July 24, 2023, and ended on July 26, 2023, with jury deliberations lasting less than one hour.
The evidence presented at trial showed that on November 5, 2021, the defendant Schermerhorn, victim Hutto and another individual, Christopher Thompson, were cellmates at the Glynn County Detention Center. Brunswick Police had arrested Schermerhorn on November 2nd for felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Both Hutto and Thompson had been arrested on November 4th in separate incidents of misdemeanor criminal trespass. All three were housed together in ‘B’ Unit at the Detention Center where inmates were initially in quarantine because of COVID. On the afternoon of November 5th, all three had gone to court for their first appearances, where both Hutto and Thompson were granted Own Recognizance bonds. Schermerhorn was denied bond. All three then returned to their cell where Hutto and Thompson waited for their paperwork to be processed so they could be released.
According to Christopher Thompson, Hutto was eating a sandwich and made a comment about being gay. It was then that Schermerhorn grabbed Hutto from behind, put him in a headlock and proceeded to strangle him. He then threw Hutto to the floor, repeatedly picked him up by the shirt collar, and slammed his head into the concrete floor. Another inmate in the recreation area saw the assault and called jailers for help. When the jailers arrived, they too observed Schermerhorn slamming Hutto’s head into the ground before they were able to pull Schermerhorn off of Hutto.
The case was investigated by Special Agent Niklaus Antczak of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation following a request by the Sheriff’s Office. In addition to the testimony of Christopher Thompson, another inmate in the Unit said he heard Schermerhorn talking to himself in his cell the night before the incident occurred, saying he was going to kill somebody and slam their head into the ground. The inmate did not know who Schermerhorn was referring to.
Mr. Hutto suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured jaw, and fractures to his larynx and face. While the attack left him essentially brain dead, he did not pass away until November 21st while in hospice in Florida. Hutto had long suffered from mental illness and was homeless off and on, as he did not comply with taking his medication. At the time of his death, Hutto weighed only 112 pounds while Schermerhorn was more than twice his size.
According to Chief Assistant District Attorney Nigel Lush, who prosecuted the case for the State, “The facts of this case are particularly sad. Mr. Hutto struggled with his mental health as many homeless people do, but he was not violent and was not a threat to anyone. He was minutes away from being released from jail when he was attacked from behind by a much younger man more than twice his size. He did nothing to provoke this animalistic assault. Whatever the reason was for Mr. Schermerhorn’s attack, he clearly does not belong on the streets ever again.”
Immediately following jury deliberations, Superior Court Judge Stephen D. Kelley sentenced Schermerhorn to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.