A North Carolina man who won $1o million on a lottery ticket was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Michael Todd Hill, a 54-year-old from Brunswick County, was convicted of first-degree murder for killing his girlfriend, 23-year-old Keonna Graham, in 2020. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Monday. He was also sentenced to an additional term of 22-36 months for possession of a firearm by a felon. Hill was arrested and jailed in 2020.
“The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank our local law enforcement agencies for their collaborative efforts in the investigation of Graham’s death,” Assistant District Attorney Shirley Smircic said in a news release from the prosecutors in the 15th district of North Carolina, via the Raleigh News and Observer. “The hard work of these officers ensured a just result in this case.”
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, Hill and Graham had been in a loving relationship for more than a year, when she was reported as missing on July 20, 2020. Graham’s body was discovered by local police a few days later in the room of the Sure Stay Hotel in Shallotte, North Carolina, about 40 miles outside of Wilmington. The prosecutors’ press release said that Graham was found in the room with a “gunshot wound to the back of the head.”
“Surveillance footage from the hotel showed Hill as the only individual in the hotel room with Graham,” the prosecutors added in their release. Prosecutors also said that Hill confessed to killing Graham, local CBS affiliate WSPA reported.
Speaking to local NBC affiliate WECT in 2020, Vee Patel, the manager of the Sure Stay Hotel, said that Hill checked into the room on July 21, alone. Patel told WECT that none of the hotel employees ever saw Graham. Checkout time at the hotel is at 11 a.m., and once checkout time had passed, housekeeping workers knocked on the door to the room several times. After they repeatedly received no response, the housekeeping staff opened the door and entered the room, where they found a woman unconscious inside, and blood in the room. Staff called 911 shortly afterward.
Hill was working as an employee of a local nuclear power plant when he won a $10 million prize from an Ultimate Millions scratch-off ticket at a convenience store near Wilmington in 2017. According to a WECT report from the time, Hill bought a scratch-off that did not win, then, on a whim, bought a second ticket, which was the winner. After state and federal tax withholdings, he took home a lump sum of just over $4.1 million.
“I think it’s horrible,” Tiffany Wilson, a friend of Keonna Graham’s family, said in 2020 after Hill was arrested. “I mean, he just won the lottery. I heard he just got married and you go and kill a young girl? A beautiful girl? I don’t understand.” “All that money and you are seducing a young girl to go into a hotel?” Wilson added. “I don’t know what the situation is but you had no business being in a hotel with her.”
Wilson remembered Graham as someone loved by her family. “She was very loved and she’s very beautiful,” she said.