Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    5,965

    Roger Lee Gillett - Mississippi Death Row



    Summary of Offense:

    Was one of two people charged in the March 2004 deaths of Linda Heintzelman and Heintzelman's boyfriend, Vernon Hulett, both of Hattiesburg. Their bodies were found inside the freezer at an abandoned farm in Russell County, Kan., by law officers who were searching for drugs. Gillett's former girlfriend and accomplice in the murders, Lisa Jo Chamberlin, received the same fate during her trial in August 2006.

    Gillett was sentenced to death on November 4, 2007.

    Read more on Lisa Jo Chamberlin here

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    5,965

    Roger Gillett - Mississippi Death Row

    November 5, 2007

    Gillett gets death penalty

    The fate of Roger Gillett was finally decided Saturday when a jury sentenced him to death for two counts of capital murder after more than 2 hours of deliberation.

    Gillett, 33, was found guilty Friday in the slayings of his cousin, Vernon Hulett, and Hulett's girlfriend Linda Heintzelman in March 2004.

    For the victims' families it was an ending they had been waiting 3 years for.

    "I don't really want him dead. I want everything taken away from him," said Caroline Hester, Hulett's mother.

    Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Bob Helfrich set Gillett's execution for Dec. 19 at the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

    Gillett will have the right to an appeal, defense attorneys said.

    Gillett's former girlfriend and accomplice in the murders, Lisa Jo Chamberlin, received the same fate during her trial in August 2006.

    Together, Gillett and Chamberlin tortured then mutilated the bodies of the victims before stuffing them in a deep freezer and transporting them to Russell, Kan., in a stolen truck owned by Heintzelman.

    The bodies were discovered by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigations during a drug investigation on a farmstead owned by Gillett's grandfather.

    Speculation arose that Chamberlin may be called as a witness in Gillett's trial, but District Attorney Jon Mark Weathers denied those claims.

    "I think at one time (that) might have been a possibility, but she never agreed to it," Weathers said.

    Saturday's sentencing proceedings were the 1st time the defense called any witnesses to stand. All eight spoke on behalf of Gillett's morale character in hopes of curtailing the jury from delivering a death sentence.

    Dick Allison, former pastor of University Baptist Church, told jurors he met Gillett through the prison ministry.

    "Roger wanted very much to be baptized," Allison said. "Roger's faith is absolutely genuine. I believe fully that his life, even in prison, can be a benefit to many people."

    The most emotional testimony Saturday came from Gillett's aunt, Marsha Gillett, and his mother, Vicki Hulett, who both shed tears during their depositions.

    In her 2-hour pre-recorded testimony, Vicki Hulett began crying at just the mention of her son's name.

    When defense attorney James Lappan quizzed her about Vernon, she said, "I think about him all the time. I loved him very much."

    Vicki Hulett's testimony was chaperoned by a parade of childhood photos taken of Gillett as a baby and on into adulthood.

    "When Roger was a small child, my brother was an alcoholic," Marsha Gillett told jurors. "He was more like my son than my nephew. It's very hard for my family to have to live through this."

    In his closing arguments at the sentencing Saturday, Assistant District Attorney Ben Saucier asked jurors not to be swayed in their decision by baby pictures and the witnesses' tales of the defendant's melancholy childhood.

    "Lots of people have hard times," Saucier said. "Does that separate you from anyone else?

    "All I saw (today) was people who knew him. I think everyone in this courtroom can get a group of people together to say 'Can you spare his life?'" Saucier said.

    After the verdict was announced and Gillett escorted to the Forrest County Jail in handcuffs, family members shared hugs with Weathers for helping to bring justice to their loved ones.

    "The hardest part was knowing what the family was going through," Weathers told reporters. "I'm going to sleep well tonight."

    (Source: AP)

  3. #3
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    27,164
    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Gillett's petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was DENIED.

  4. #4
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    27,164
    Hattiesburg death row inmate loses appeal

    The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Roger Lee Gillett, who was sentenced to death for his role in the 2004 slaying of a Hattiesburg couple.

    The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Gillett's capital murder conviction in 2010.

    The nation's high court this past week turned Gillett's request to look at his appeal.

    Gillett was convicted in 2007 in Forrest County on two counts of capital murder for his role in the deaths and the transporting of their bodies to Kansas in a freezer.

    The Mississippi court rejected Gillett's argument that his decision to flee to Kansas in the couple's truck was unrelated to the slayings.

    Prosecutors countered that Gillett and his girlfriend, Lisa Jo Chamberlin, fled the state to cover their tracks and hide the crime.

    In 2004, according to court documents, Kansas authorities learned Chamberlin and Gillett were in possession of a stolen vehicle and were manufacturing methamphetamine at a farm near Russell, Kan.

    Officers arrested the couple at the home where they were staying after a search found illegal drugs. A second search uncovered a freezer in which a dismembered body was found. The body was determined to be Vernon Hullett, Gillett's cousin. When they pulled the body out, Linda Heintzelman's frozen body was found underneath.

    Prosecutors said Gillett and Chamberlin were living with the victims in Hattiesburg at the time of the slayings.

    Chamberlin, in a taped confession played at her trial, said the victims were killed because they wouldn't open a safe in Hulett's home, according to the court record. Her appeal was turned down separately in October by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Prosecutors contended that Gillett's fleeing with the bodies was part of a continuous criminal act.

    The Mississippi court follows the "one continuous transaction" rationale in capital cases. Therefore, evidence that Gillett stole the truck and fled to avoid arrest could be used to support a capital murder conviction.

    In Mississippi, capital murder is defined as murder committed along with another crime; in this case, robbery.

    http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/a...xt%7CFRONTPAGE

  5. #5
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    27,164
    Gillett continues efforts to win new trial

    A death row inmate is asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to allow him to file a post-conviction petition seeking a new trial for his role in the 2004 slaying of a Hattiesburg couple.

    The appeal by Roger Lee Gillett is among dozens the Supreme Court will consider during its March-April term. A decision is expected later this year. The Supreme Court has not scheduled the case for oral arguments.

    The Supreme Court upheld Gillett's capital murder conviction and death sentence in 2010.

    In a post-conviction petition, an inmate argues he has found new evidence - or a possible constitutional issue - that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

    Gillett was one of two people charged in the 2004 deaths of Linda Heintzelman and Heintzelman's boyfriend, Vernon Hullett. Their bodies were found inside a freezer at an abandoned farm in Russell County, Kan., by law officers who were searching for drugs.

    Gillett was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007. The other defendant, Lisa Jo Chamberlin, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2006.

    Prosecutors said Gillett and Chamberlin fled Mississippi to cover their tracks and hide the crime.

    The investigation began when authorities learned in March 2004 that Chamberlin and Gillett had a stolen vehicle and were making methamphetamine at the Kansas farm.

    Officers arrested the couple on March 29, 2004, at the Kansas home and a search found illegal drugs. A second search uncovered a freezer in which a dismembered body was found. The body was determined to be Vernon Hullett, Gillett's cousin. When they pulled the body out, Linda Heintzelman's frozen body was found underneath.

    Prosecutors said Gillett and Chamberlin were living with the victims in Hattiesburg at the time of the slayings.

    Chamberlin, in a taped confession played at her trial, said the victims were killed because they wouldn't open a safe in Hu llett's home, according to court records.

    In Mississippi, capital murder is defined as murder committed along with another crime; in this case, robbery.

    http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/v...-win-new-trial
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  6. #6
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    27,164
    Mississippi Supreme Court may decide constitutionality of 1994 state law

    The Mississippi Supreme Court may decide the constitutionality of a 1994 state law that allows it to find "harmless" errors committed by juries in death penalty cases.

    Roger Lee Gillett challenged the law in his post-conviction petition that seeks to overturn his death sentence or to get him a new trial.

    The law was enacted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Mississippi case in 1990 that state appellate courts can uphold murderers' death sentences, even if their sentencing juries wrongly considered some adverse evidence.

    Chandler Clemons had challenged the reweighing of the sentencing evidence in his case. The case dealt only with the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial, not Clemons' convictions.

    The U.S. Supreme Court stopped short of upholding the Mississippi death sentence of Clemons. But it ruled that describing a crime to juries as "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" without further definition -- as was done in Clemons' case -- was unconstitutionally vague. That ruling has resulted in several death sentences being overturned in Mississippi.

    Clemons and nearly two dozen other Mississippi death row inmates were ultimately re-sentenced to life in prison. For the rest of the 1990s, no executions took place in Mississippi. The 2002 execution of Jessie Derrell Williams was the state's first since 1989.

    Now, members of the Mississippi Supreme Court -- none of whom were serving in 1990 -- may determine if the 1994 law is unconstitutional. Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. has asked both sides for briefs over the next three months addressing the issue Gillett raised in the post-conviction appeal.

    In Mississippi, the death penalty can be imposed by a jury only against a defendant found guilty of capital murder, and the jury must find certain aggravating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances include particularly heinous acts of violence, violent criminal histories or other factors that warrant the death penalty as determined by judges and juries.

    However, in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court said jurors, not judges, had to decide whether sufficient aggravating circumstances existed to support a death penalty decision.

    In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court said a death sentence must be set aside if a jury considered inadmissible evidence that otherwise would not have been before it.

    Gillett has seized on those decisions in his post-conviction appeal. He claims his due process rights were violated and the state law is unconstitutional.

    Gillett was convicted in 2007 in Forrest County on two counts of capital murder for his role in the deaths of a Hattiesburg couple and the transporting of their bodies to Kansas in a freezer.

    While in custody in Kansas, he attempted to escape. That crime was one of the aggravating factors that prosecutors presented jurors to support the death penalty.

    The Mississippi Supreme Court found in 2010 that the attempted escape issue was harmless error and there was sufficient evidence to convict Gillett in spite of it.

    Gillett's attorneys now argue that Mississippi law "exclusively assigns the weighing to the jury" by letting juries decide both the facts that should be considered and the actual sentence.

    "The jury is assigned the duty of imposition of sentence. The role of each independent fact found by the jury is not independent from other aggravating facts but is part of a set that are considered collectively," according to Gillett's post-conviction brief.

    The attorney general's office argued that the ruling in Clemons' case was that an appeals court, such as the Mississippi Supreme Court, can "reweigh the evidence or conduct a harmless error analysis" based on what the jury found.

    The attorney general argued that courts are not required to reverse a death sentence when they find such "harmless errors" would not have affected the verdict.

    http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi..._suprem_1.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  7. #7
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    27,164

    Miss. high court looks at 'harmless' errors law in death penalty cases

    The Mississippi Supreme Court is looking at the constitutionality of a 1994 state law that allows it to find “harmless” errors committed by juries in death penalty cases.

    Roger Lee Gillett is challenging the law in a post-conviction petition that seeks to overturn his death sentence or to get him a new trial. The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 13 in Jackson.

    Gillett was convicted in 2007 in Forrest County on two counts of capital murder for his role in the deaths of a Hattiesburg couple and the transporting of their bodies to Kansas in a freezer.

    While in custody in Kansas, he attempted to escape. That crime was one of the aggravating factors prosecutors presented jurors to support the death penalty.

    The law was enacted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in another Mississippi capital case in 1990 that state appellate courts can uphold murderers’ death sentences, even if their sentencing juries wrongly considered some adverse evidence.

    In the 1990 case, Chandler Clemons had challenged the reweighing of the sentencing evidence in his case. The case dealt only with the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial, not Clemons’ convictions.

    In Mississippi, the death penalty can be imposed by a jury only after it finds certain aggravating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances include particularly heinous acts of violence, violent criminal histories or other factors that warrant the death penalty as determined by judges and juries.

    However, in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court said jurors, not judges, had to decide whether sufficient aggravating circumstances existed to support a death penalty decision.

    In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court said a death sentence must be set aside if a jury considered inadmissible evidence that otherwise would not have been before it.

    Gillett has seized on those decisions in arguing his due process rights were violated and the law is unconstitutional.

    Gillett was convicted in 2007 in Forrest County on two counts of capital murder for his role in the deaths of a Hattiesburg couple and the transporting of their bodies to Kansas in a freezer.

    The Mississippi Supreme Court found in 2010 that the attempted escape issue was harmless error and there was sufficient evidence to convict Gillett in spite of it.

    Gillett’s attorneys now argue Mississippi law “exclusively assigns the weighing to the jury” by letting juries decide both the facts that should be considered and the actual sentence.

    “The jury is assigned the duty of imposition of sentence. The role of each independent fact found by the jury is not independent from other aggravating facts but is part of a set that are considered collectively,” Gillett’s attorneys said.

    The attorney general’s office argued the ruling in Clemons’ case was that an appeals court, such as the Mississippi Supreme Court, can “reweigh the evidence or conduct a harmless error analysis” based on what the jury found.

    The attorney general argued that courts are not required to reverse a death sentence when they find such “harmless errors” would not have affected the verdict.

    http://www.clarionledger.com/viewart...-penalty-cases
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •