Suspect in deadly road rage beating free on bond again

Christian Hillman accused of fatally beating William McFarlan in September

Christian William Hillman arraignment
Christian Hillman appears via video for his Oct. 5, 2016 arraignment.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The 18-year-old charged with murder for a deadly road rage beating was back at his parents’ house Wednesday night.

Christian Hillman is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 64-year-old William McFarlan. McFarlan died on Oct. 31 from injuries sustained during the Sept. 29 beating in the 6100 block of Whitneyville Avenue in Caledonia Township. Hillman has claimed self-defense.

Hillman posted bond Wednesday and was released from the Kent County jail.

It was the second time he had made bond. The first was at the beginning of October, prior to McFarlan’s death, after Hillman was charged with felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm.

Christian Hillman
Christian Hillman (right) sits next to his attorney, Michael Bartish (left) in court during a preliminary hearing on Oct. 26, 2016.

Later that month, though, a judge raised his bond to $100,000 and ordered Hillman back to jail, saying she did not think he should be free and on his own.

24 Hour News 8 did some digging to see what Hillman was up to after he made bail the first time. Court documents show his bond conditions then included an 8 p.m. curfew and said he should not have any contact with drugs or alcohol.

A simple search of his friends on Facebook show some of Hillman’s behavior while he was on bond. The first was a picture taken posted on Oct. 9 showing Hillman smoking some sort of substance. On Oct. 21, a Facebook Live video — which enables user to stream video in real time — shows Hillman out past the court-ordered curfew.

Now that he’s made bond a second time, 24 Hour News 8 stopped by Hillman’s house in the Ada area to see if he or his parents had anything to say. They closed their garage door upon arrival and no one answered the door.

60th street and whitneyville avenue
The scene of the assault. (Sept. 29, 2016)

Court documents show Hillman claims self-defense. He told detectives McFarlan grabbed his neck. But witnesses described a ruthless attack on McFarlan, including Hillman repeatedly kicking and punching him and then asking friends to take photos of his bloody hands.

Undated courtesy photo of William McFarlan (Courtesy GoFundMe.com/HelpMcFarlanFamily)
Undated courtesy photo of William McFarlan (Courtesy GoFundMe.com/HelpMcFarlanFamily)

McFarlan spent a little over a month in a coma in the hospital before dying from his injures.

On Nov. 10, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office filed the second-degree murder charge.

The prosecutor’s office told 24 Hour News 8 it was aware of what’s on Facebook and was looking into it further. Officials filed a motion Thursday to to increase Hillman’s bond again during a Nov. 23 hearing to send him back to jail.