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Judge sets court hearing date in 34-year-old Hamilton County murder case


CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — A judge has set a court hearing date for a bowling alley owner charged with killing a man whose body was found in a steel drum on a lake 34 years ago.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (http://bit.ly/1LTGytJ ) that Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole set a Nov. 3 hearing date for 61-year-old William Hawk on Friday.

Hawk was arrested Tuesday at his Greene County home. Prosecutors say he killed 27-year-old Johnny Mack Salyer, whose body was pulled from a 55-gallon steel drum floating on Chickamauga Lake on June 3, 1981. Salyer's body was so badly decomposed that authorities could not determine how he died.

When Salyer died, he and Hawk were co-defendants in a pending cocaine distribution case.

Hawk's attorney, Jim Logan, said Hawk is not guilty of first-degree murder. Hawk is being held on $500,000 bond.

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston has said uncooperative witnesses — among other factors — kept the state from connecting the slaying to Hawk more than three decades ago. The state has yet to release any evidence or specify what changed between 1981 and 2015.

"I'm going to be working diligently to begin to try to understand the state's foundational basis for the allegations," Logan said after Friday's hearing.

Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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