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Man who won $10 million lottery prize gets life sentence in woman’s NC shooting death

A North Carolina man who won a $10 million lottery prize in 2017 was recently convicted of first-degree murder. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A North Carolina man who scored a $10 million lottery prize is now convicted of first-degree murder.

In August 2017, Michael Hill said he bought a non-winning ticket before deciding to try his luck on another scratch-off game. When he checked the new ticket, he discovered his “life changing” jackpot win.

“I saw the one and then the zero and it still didn’t hit me,” he told the N.C. Education Lottery at the time. “But then I saw the ‘M.’ My heart dropped down to my toes and I lost my breath.”

Years after the big win, Hill has been sentenced to prison in a woman’s shooting death. Prosecutors in a May 27 news release didn’t list attorney information for him.

The woman — 23-year-old Keonna Graham — was reported missing on July 20, 2020. Later, she was found dead with a “gunshot wound to the back of the head,” according to the 15th Prosecutorial District of North Carolina.

The woman reportedly had been in a relationship with Hill for more than a year before her body was discovered at the SureStay Hotel in Shallotte, roughly 40 miles southwest of Wilmington.

“Surveillance footage from the hotel showed Hill as the only individual in the hotel room with Graham,” prosecutors wrote in their news release. “Hill was later arrested by law enforcement in Southport, North Carolina, and confessed to shooting Graham after she had been texting other men while at the hotel.”

Hill worked at a nuclear plant and lived in Brunswick County at the time of his lottery win. He was 52 years old when he was arrested and charged with murder in July 2020, McClatchy News reported.

Then on May 27, a jury found Hill guilty of first-degree murder. He was ordered to serve “life in prison without the possibility of parole and 22-36 months in prison for Possession of Firearm by Felon to run concurrent with his life sentence,” officials said.

“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 the prosecutors’ news release. “The hard work of these officers ensured a just result in this case.”


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