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Hilton trial news travels darn fast in the Internet age

When Benton County’s team of prosecutors rushed out of an Asotin County courtroom Thursday afternoon to call their boss to report that Kevin Hilton had been found guilty of murder, they discovered a celebration already was under way in Kennewick.

Prosecutor Andy Miller had just read the news on the Herald’s website and notified staffers in his office of the jury verdict in the double murder trial.

Herald reporter Kristin Kraemer had filed the news immediately once the jury foreman read the verdict. Tri-Citians had been tipped earlier by the Herald’s website that a verdict was in and would be posted as soon as it was announced.

The team of prosecutors in Asotin weren’t the only ones to be surprised that the news had traveled so fast.

Friends and relatives of the couple Hilton murdered, Josephine and Larry Ulrich of Richland, got a similar surprise when they called the Tri-Cities from Asotin to report the verdict.

Advances in technology, plus Kraemer’s focus on providing fast and thorough reports for the newspaper and its website, put the verdict on the Web before the judge rapped his gavel.

It was the second time Hilton has been convicted of shooting his landlords to death. His first conviction in Benton County was overturned by a state appeals court because of invalid search warrants. The retrial was moved to Asotin because of extensive Tri-City media coverage.

The Herald was able to beat other media reports because Kraemer has been at every day of the trial since Jan. 15. And her reports have been read eagerly both in the paper and on the Web, with scores of trial-watchers flooding tricityherald.com within minutes of when the news was posted.

Ken Robertson: 582-1520; krobertson@tricityherald.com

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