‘Hutch’ retires from DA’s office

Published 12:55 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

Gary Hutcheson of the District Attorney’s office is presented a plaque by current DA Walt Merrell.

Gary Hutcheson of the District Attorney’s office is presented a plaque by current DA Walt Merrell.

Ask Gary Hutcheson why he chose a career in law enforcement, and the man described as a consummate storyteller stalls.

“Well, I can’t really tell you that,” he said. Then, relenting, he added, “I took a ride in a trooper’s vehicle wearing a toga. It was pretty cool and I decided I could do that.”

Hutcheson proved that he could indeed do that. The chief investigator for the district attorney’s office was honored with a retirement reception at the Covington County Courthouse yesterday that marked the end of a 35-year career.

Former District Attorney Eugenia Loggins, who hired Hutcheson as an investigator, said, “I’d personally like to thank you for working with a crazy bunch of people. You fit right in.”

Loggins said Hutcheson always kept digging to make sure they knew “who really did it.”

“He kept me and others on the straight and narrow,” she said. “He always crossed the last ‘t’ and dotted the last ‘i.’ He always kept digging.

“He did a wonderful job,” she said. “His work is a tribute to all law enforcement.”

Gary Hutcheson of the District Attorney’s office is presented a commendation from Mayor Earl Johnson.

Gary Hutcheson of the District Attorney’s office is presented a commendation from Mayor Earl Johnson.

Covington County Pardons and Parole Officer Jamey Wismer, who previously worked with Hutcheson in the DA’s office, said in addition to his work ethic, Hutcheson had the “it.”

“It’s what all law enforcement officers strive to have,” Wismer said. “You can’t learn ‘it.’ Gary was born with the ‘it.’

“He is comfortable in any crowd. Rich, poor, middle class,” he said. “And there was something that made people talk to Gary.”

Both Wismer and current DA Walt Merrell praised Hutcheson’s investigative skills.

“There were times when we’d all be looking in one direction (regarding a crime) and Gary would be looking up a tree in a different direction,” Wismer said.

Merrell said Hutcheson is known for meticulously processing crime scenes, and working them on a grid.

“I know of at least two cases when he found crucial pieces of evidence when other people had stopped looking,” Merrell said.

Merrell recalled a time as a young assistant DA, when Loggins was out of town.

“So Gary, Huey and Luey (Merrell and Wismer) went to the scene where a man had died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

“We were looking around and Gary asked us if either one of us had seen a Bible,” Merrell recalled. “I was thinking it was nice of him to want to read some scripture and say a few words over the man.

“We told him we couldn’t find one, and he said, ‘That confirms that.’

“He told us that most of the suicides he’d worked, if someone kills himself, he spends some time reading the Bible.

“He has forgotten more than most investigators will ever know,” Merrell said.

Hutcheson also commanded the DA’s Cold Case Task Force, which successfully solved and prosecuted several old cases, including the murder of Nibby Barton.

Merrell said that outside of his family, Hutcheson’s passion in life is serving the Lord and his church, Pleasant Home First Baptist.

“Most people don’t know that he and Brother Fred Kelley have private prayer time each week,” Merrell said. “They also visit in the community, but they don’t do it for fame or glory.”

Hutcheson also drives the church bus.

After being presented with a rifle, Hutcheson said he’s had more ups than downs in his career.

“The thing that kept me going was that I had God in my heart,” he said. “I knew when I left for work, no matter what happened, I was OK.”

He encouraged young officers who face the unknown every time they go to work to follow that example.

Hutcheson worked for the Florala Police Department for two years before joining the Andalusia Police Department. When he ended his 12 years there to join the DA’s office, he was chief investigator. Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson presented him with a resolution, as did current Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole.

Hutcheson and his wife, Pam, have three daughters, Kristy Martin, Kimberly Hutcheson Carroll and Kelley Hutcheson Harrison, and six grandchildren.