Wednesday, September 26, 2012

KY Woman on Trial for Shooting Lawyer Husband

When a jury in a murder trial deliberates for only two hours, it can mean several things. One is that the defendant is not guilty because the prosecution failed to prove the case. Another is that the evidence is so convincing that every juror was ready to convict from the moment deliberations began. Yet another possibility is that the jury is hopelessly divided and tells that to the judge.

This third option happened last week in a trial in central Kentucky. After deliberating for two hours, the jury of nine women and three men came back to say they were deadlocked. Although the judge sent the jury back to deliberate further, two hours later they were back again, declaring that they were at an impasse that could not be resolved. The judge had no choice but to call a “hung jury,” based on their inability to reach a unanimous decision one way or the other.

The late Larry Gilliam, Esq.
The case involved the death of a lawyer named Larry Gilliam in London, Kentucky. On trial for his murder was his wife, Lisa Gilliam. Lisa said that Larry had committed suicide, but the Commonwealth saw it differently. They will now have to try Mrs. Gilliam again if they want to convict her of murder.

It was a week into the new year of 2011, January 7 to be precise. At 2:00 in the afternoon a shot rang out from the law offices of Larry Gilliam. His wife of 44 days, Lisa, claims that she was in another office in the building when she heard the shot. She ran to her husband’s office and found him behind his desk, gun in hand, with a bullet hole in his chest.

Two months later, Lisa was indicted for Larry’s murder. She voluntarily surrendered to authorities.
Lisa Gilliam mug shot, March 22, 2011.
Lisa’s trial was originally scheduled to begin on July 23, but due to a prosecution witness delivering a baby just when the trial was set to begin, it was continued until September 17.

Lisa, it turns out, was not Larry Gilliam’s first wife. Nor was she his second, third, fourth, or fifth wife. Like Henry the Eighth, Larry had six wives. And one of those former wives, Colleen, was still receiving alimony from Larry.

Gilliam in trial last week.
According to the theory put forth by Lisa’s defense team, Larry was despondent over a number of events and circumstances in his life. He was in debt to the tune of $500,000, for starters. He also was in arrears on child support, and had been ordered by a judge to pay a lump sum of $2300 toward the arrearage. If he did not, he would go to jail for contempt of court. Witnesses testified that Larry had filed for bankruptcy that very morning. Moreover, Larry’s marriage to Lisa was also on the rocks. The two of them had had an argument that very morning, and it had gotten physical, with Larry shoving Lisa against a wall. After that, Lisa went back to work waiting for Larry to calm down. Larry then bundled money into rolls, left notes on the rolls of bills, and shot himself in the chest.

Prosecution witnesses refuted the claims that Larry was suicidal. He had just put down a cash deposit on a trip to the Bahamas the week before. He was indeed filing for bankruptcy with his cousin as the bankruptcy attorney that morning. He had filed for bankruptcy before, so the procedure would not have stressed him out that much.  

When prosecution witness Dr. Kristen Rolf came to the stand, the forensic pathologist for the state Medical Examiner’s Office said she performed an autopsy on Gilliam on Jan. 8, 2011. She said to Steele the bullet entered his left chest. The bullet path traveled the left-hand side of his body, and went through the heart, and caused a bruise to his left lung. It exited the body on the diaphragm and spleen, below the ribs. She concluded the gun was pressed against the chest, and a drug test was performed, which turned out negative.

 When cross-examined by Foster, Dr. Rolf said the wound from the gun was a close contact wound, and that “most close contact wounds end up being suicides.”

When Steele asked about who handled the gun during the time of the shooting, Dr. Rolf replied, “I can’t tell you who’s holding the gun, because I’m not there.”

The oddest thing about the case that I have read is where the police found the gun that killed Larry – it was in Lisa’s desk. If there was an explanation proffered at the trial, I have not heard it mentioned. There were no discernible finger-prints on the gun, and the forensics expert says he was not asked to run a DNA test on the gun. Lisa did not take the stand in her own defense, so there was probably no one to ask about how the gun got from the dead man’s hand to the accused wife’s desk.

It remains to be seen whether the Commonwealth will try the case again. A new pretrial date has been set for October 19, at which time the prosecution has to affirm that it plans to proceed. If not, in the opinion of some, Lisa will have gotten away with murder.

Final note: One thing that came about in this trial was a request by defense attorneys to have Lisa Gilliam's polygraph results admitted as evidence. I am still looking for the outcome of that motion.


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