DALLAS — Federal Appellate Judge Robert Madden Hill, who presided over Billy Sol Estes' 1979 fraud and conspiracy trial while a district judge and who later was involved in bribery proceedings against former Texas governor and treasury secretary John B. Connally, has died aboard a flight from Africa.
Hill, 59, died Monday after an asthma attack as he and his wife, state Rep. Patricia Hill, were returning from vacation in Kenya, according to Carol Hallman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The plane made an emergency landing in Iceland, Hallman said.
Hill presided over several high-profile cases as a U.S. district judge.
In 1979, Estes, a close associate of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy to conceal his assets to avoid paying back taxes.
Hill sentenced the flamboyant West Texan, who had been convicted years before of a federal violation involving mortgages on non-existent fertilizer tanks, to the maximum 10 years in prison.