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Russell David Tillis Sentenced to 2 Life Sentences in May 2015 FL Murder of Joni Lynn Gunter - Page 3
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Thread: Russell David Tillis Sentenced to 2 Life Sentences in May 2015 FL Murder of Joni Lynn Gunter

  1. #21
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Okay this last article made me laugh my head off. It should be noted that this is Tillis's eighth lawyer as he has deemed them all incompetent
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #22
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    Judge won't allow Russell Tillis' lawyer to withdraw from case

    Tillis, 57, charged with kidnapping, killing, dismembering woman

    By Jenese Harris
    News4Jax.com

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A judge on Monday denied a motion by murder suspect Russell Tillis' lead lawyer to withdraw from the case.

    Tillis, 57, who is accused of killing a woman and burying her body on his Southside property, has had eight different attorneys since his arrest in 2015 on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Tillis is accused of murder in the death of Joni Gunter, whose dismembered remains were found on Tillis' property in 2016, while he was awaiting trial on his initial charges.

    Michael Bossen, the seventh attorney to represent Tillis, asked to withdraw from the case -- again. In the motion, Bossen says communication has broken down with Tillis to the point of there being unresolved conflict with him.

    "There are rules in professional conduct that will not allow me to get into the details," Bossen explained to Judge Mark Borello in court on Monday. "I have never had a situation where the client has created such conflict."

    Tillis, who was also in court, told the judge that he wanted Bossen removed.

    "Mr. Bossen has indicated that I have created a conflict that no longer allows him to represent me," Tillis said. "I want to point out that Mr. Bossen has repeatedly lied to me. For 12 months, he was completely inactive on the case."

    But Borello denied the request, saying it's possible Tillis will have the same problems with another attorney and Bossen is the most informed on the case, so he will remain as lead counsel.

    "He is in the best position to represent Mr. Tillis going forward," Borello said. "Therefore, your motion to withdraw as counsel is denied."

    It wasn't the first time Bossen tried to withdraw from the case. In October, Borello allowed Bossen to withdraw. Tillis represented himself for a couple of weeks, then changed his mind, and Bossen was re-appointed as lead counsel.

    Last summer, Tillis complained about his former attorney, James Hernandez, who was also removed from the case.

    Legal analyst and attorney Randy Reep said he sees this as an attempt for Tillis to delay his trial.

    "It happens more frequently than you might imagine when there is a defendant, particularly who is appointed an attorney, who doesn't like the person that he has received as his attorney," Reep said. "Frankly, he is trying to prolong his trial."

    Tillis' next pretrial will be Feb. 11.

    His much-delayed trial is set for May. It is a death penalty case -- another reason why Bossen will remain on the case, as there are only so many attorneys who can argue a death penalty case.

    The delay could be costly. According to the Justice Administrative Commission, over 90 percent of the cases that it pays for have an attorney fee flat rate varying from $500 to $25,000. For a death penalty case, $25,000 is typical.

    News4Jax requested the amount of money Tillis has racked up in attorney fees but was told that number is still being researched.

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/...draw-from-case
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  3. #23
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Russell Tillis' lawyers allowed to withdraw from case

    Man charged with killing, dismembering woman now on 10th attorney

    By Ashley Harding
    News4JAX.com

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man accused of killing, dismembering and burying a young woman at his Southside home has been assigned yet another attorney after the judge in the case agreed to allow the two lawyers representing Russell Tillis to withdraw from the case.

    Tillis' murder trial is set for May, but he'll be moving ahead with lawyer No. 10, Duval County Judge Mark Borello ruled Wednesday morning.

    Tillis is facing the death penalty. Prosecutors say he murdered Joni Lynn Gunter and buried her remains on his Southside property.

    Tillis has had multiple attorneys representing him, and in the last couple of months, his eighth and ninth attorneys filed motions asking to be removed from the case due to conflicts of interest.

    After Borello had some time to look over the motions, he said the law is very clear when it comes to potential conflicts of interest and removed Tillis first chair attorney, Michael Bossen, and second chair attorney, Nicole Jamieson, from the case.

    Bossen explained in his motion to withdraw that he had been appointed in a new case and after speaking with his new, unnamed client, he determined there would be a conflict of interest if he kept representing Tillis. Jamieson echoed that sentiment in a separate motion she filed.

    Bossen and Tillis have had a strained relationship, and last week, Tillis filed a motion asking for a Nelson hearing to allow Bossen to be removed from the case. In that motion, Tillis lamented that Bossen and Jamieson had failed to depose multiple witnesses, including two whose testimony is time sensitive.

    Tillis also referred to Bossen as a slimy little lying coward who has succumbed to the dictatorship of Judge Borello.

    Tillis' new attorney was in court Wednesday but the two have not had a chance to speak yet. They are due back in court in two weeks.

    This wasn't the first time Bossen tried to withdraw from the case. In October, Borello allowed Bossen to withdraw. Tillis represented himself for a couple of weeks, then changed his mind, and Bossen was reappointed as lead counsel.

    Last summer, Tillis complained about his former attorney James Hernandez, who was also removed from the case.

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/...draw-from-case
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #24
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    Motion filed to block death penalty in Russell Tillis case

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Having convinced a judge to delay a trial in May, attorneys for Russell Tillis, the man charged with kidnapping, killing and burying a woman in the yard of his Southside home, have filed a motion to block prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

    Attorneys Chuck Fletcher and John Rockwell were appointed in March as the 10th and 11th lawyers to represent Tillis.

    Their motion asks Judge Mark Borello to declare Floridas death penalty law unconstitutional. In addition, the attorneys have filed a motion seeking a mental competency evaluation for Tillis.

    Tillis is charged in the murder of Joni Gunter, whose dismembered remains were found buried in his yard in 2016.

    Tillis is due back in court Tuesday.

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/...ll-tillis-case
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  5. #25
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    Russell Tillis' 12th lawyer is on the case

    Judge denies Tillis' motion to have lead attorney Chuck Fletcher removed

    By Frank Powers
    News4JAX.com

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The man charged with kidnapping, killing and burying a woman in the yard of his Southside home once again has another attorney on his case.

    A judge appointed Donald Mairs as the 12th lawyer for Russell Tillis, who is accused in the murder of Joni Gunter, whose remains were found in his yard in 2016.

    John Rockwell, a former assistant state attorney who prosecuted Tillis in 2007 on a prostitution charge, was appointed as Tillis' 11th defense lawyer on April 1. Judge Mark Borello granted a motion Friday for Rockwell, who was the second chair, to withdraw from the case.

    Attorney Chuck Fletcher is still Tillis lead defense lawyer. Tillis filed a Nelson motion, saying he wanted Fletcher removed from the case. He addressed complaints about Fletcher, saying Fletcher's ongoing I dont care mentality is unacceptable.

    When Tillis appeared in court Thursday morning with Mairs, Borello denied Tillis' motion to have Fletcher removed.

    Prosecutors contend Tillis is gaming the system to delay justice.

    The next pretrial hearing is in two weeks.

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/anothe...l-tillis-case_
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #26
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    Russell Tillis trying again to disqualify judge

    By News4JAX.com

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Russell Tillis, a month away from his long-awaited murder trial, is still firing away at the case -- and the judge.

    Last week, Tillis filed a 200-page motion to suppress a jailhouse confession he claims was fabricated with the help of another inmate.

    On Monday, he filed a motion for the second time to have Judge Mark Borello disqualified from the case. Tillis has clashed in court with Borello repeatedly.

    Tillis is charged in the kidnap, murder and dismemberment of Joni Gunter.

    The trial is set for Jan. 13. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Tillis, whos acting as his own lawyer.

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/...qualify-judge/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  7. #27
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    Judge postpones Russell Tillis trial again as court documents detail what happened to captives in Jacksonville house of horrors

    By Anne Schindler
    First Coast News

    The murder and kidnapping trial for 58-year-old Russell David Tillis has been postponed for the sixth time and comes after recently released court documents detail how women were kept captive as sex slaves in a house of horrors where at least two were killed.

    Circuit Judge Mark Borello expressed frustration Thursday after repeated issues with Tillis led to the decision to revoke the prisoners demand to represent himself at trial, last set to start Jan. 13, according to news partner First Coast News. Its now been postponed to May 11.

    He was indicted two and a half years ago, Borello said Thursday. ... I stand by 100 percent that the delays in the case are solely and 100 percent attributable to the defendant in the case.

    Tillis was arrested May 28, 2015, on warrants for minor crimes at his ramshackle home on 3551 E. Bowden Circle, according to court files. Officers were trying to serve those warrants when Tillis jumped into a neighbors yard. Police chased him but said he pulled out knives before jumping back into his front yard.

    Thats where officers found half-buried boards studded with nails before he was also arrested on charges of aggravated assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, as well as resisting officer with violence, criminal mischief and prowling, according to his arrest report.

    On Dec. 8, 2016, Tillis was charged with murder and kidnapping while in jail after investigators looked into a 2015 jailhouse tip, police said. A fellow inmate contacted detectives to say Tillis had told him about killing and dismembering a woman and burying her on his property.

    Detectives recorded a jailhouse conversation with Tillis with more details, then got a search warrant and went through his ramshackle house and fenced backyard for three days. Thats when the buried human remains were found. An autopsy showed the woman was hit in the head and killed in 2014 or 2015. DNA identified her as 31-year-old Joni Gunter, police said.

    We believe it is highly likely that other females were victimized by Tillis, including potentially other murders, Chief Scott Dingee said during a June 2017 news conference.

    A Duval County grand jury officially indicted Tillis in mid-2017 on updated charges of murder, kidnapping, coercing commercial sex activity for human trafficking and abuse of a dead human body, according to his 2017 arrest report.

    The State Attorneys Office filed notice to seek the death penalty. But during initial court hearings, Tillis announced he wanted to represent himself in his murder trial, saying he was displeased with counsel provided for him.

    Now court documents obtained by First Coast News reveal some of what Tillis confessed to in that 2015 jailhouse conversation, including the soundproof room he had in his home.

    Speaking to a fellow inmate, Tillis said he was picking girls up and locking them in that room. He said he would repeatedly sexually assault them and allowed other men to rape the women for money, the document showed.

    Sometimes he released the women, he said. But on one occasion in 2014, Tillis said someone named Jimmie beat up a captive woman, the documents show.

    Torture, yeah. He breaks her f------ cheek bone and breaks her nose and some of her teeth out and he beats the dog s--- out of her, the document stated. ... I tell him, damn, Jimmie, you know, you done messed her up. I cant keep her.

    That victim was killed and dismembered, then taken to a little place down the street where I put her ... in the ground, the documents show.

    Tillis also admitted to a second murder soon after of a woman who wasnt very submissive... She was a little fighter. At some point, she recognized Tillis brother, and he talked me into killing her, the documents show.

    Another court document indicates some of the issues court officers were having with Tillis during a Dec. 17 hearing. A Sheriffs Office lieutenant said Tillis became belligerent and refused to cooperate during depositions and was deemed a potential security risk. Tillis told officers that he would act the same way if brought to a Dec. 18 hearing, and was not brought to the courtroom again, the document said.

    The next day, Borello found Tillis not competent to represent himself and appointed attorneys to represent him.

    https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20...f-horrorsrsquo
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  8. #28
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    Edited:

    Russell Tillis ruled competent for trial

    Tillis charged with kidnapping, dismembering woman whose remains were found buried in yard of his home

    By News4JAX.com

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Russell Tillis has been ruled competent for prosecution following a two-day mental evaluation hearing.

    The ruling was made after Judge Mark Borello heard four psychologists who examined Tillis.

    The case has dragged on for years as Tillis has fought with his lawyers. Hes now on his 11th and 12th attorneys, and hes trying to get rid of one of them. Tillis has filed detailed motions himself again and again in the case.

    The trial was reset for Aug. 10. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/...ent-for-trial/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  9. #29
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    Death penalty trial a go in House of Horrors case, despite COVID-19 delays and outbreaks

    A trial already delayed five times will begin in March, a judge said Wednesday, despite the crippling effect of the coronavirus on Duval County Courthouse operations.

    That is the Courts intention, said Circuit Judge Mark Borello, who is presiding over the death penalty trial of Russell Tillis.

    Tillis, 59, is charged with kidnapping, murder and abuse of a dead body in the death of Joni Lynn Gunter. Her dismembered body was discovered in 2016 buried behind Tillis Southside home, which neighbors referred to as a House of Horrors. Tillis has pleaded not guilty.

    The courthouse is officially scheduled to resume trials March 22, according to an email from 4th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon, but many observers are skeptical, given the enormous challenge of holding in-person trials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    All but essential court functions were suspended by the Florida Supreme Court last March. For the next few months, 4th Circuit Courts operated primarily via Zoom. Some divisions, like family court, were able to process cases fairly smoothly. But criminal trials, which must be conducted in person, with juries, all but ceased.

    Mahon ordered a limited return to felony court trials in October, but that plan was scuttled after courthouse employees, jail staff and a juror involved in a case before Judge Borello all tested positive for COVID-19.

    In December, with local cases spiking, Mahon informally imposed a return to Phase 1 protocols, effectively shuttering courts in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. He formalized that posture in January, noting local health conditions have drastically deteriorated over the last month to the point that the entire Circuit is now trending up faster than or exceeds the state averages.

    In that same email, Mahon said trials scheduled for Feb. 22 or later may remain scheduled, pending further notice. That instruction now has many preparing for a return to jury trials in a matter of days.

    At Wednesdays hearing, Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi asked Borello if the trial date of March 29 is still a go?

    Borello said it was, adding that some accommodations would need to be made. Clearly, at this point, I don't think there's any mechanism for having the complete number of jurors that we would need to conduct a death penalty jury selection in the courtroom at one time, he said. So we would have to do it in stages. But I think we can accomplish that. At least that is my intention.

    He said he would get with attorneys from both sides to make a more specific plan.

    Aside from courthouse logistics, there are real questions about the willingness of jurors to participate. Although Jacksonville has spent $150 million on courthouse safety measures, including plexiglass and an informational video, previous efforts to seat juries have failed.

    Late last year, Clay County sent out 400 summonses in an effort to seat a grand jury. Only 14 people showed up. At the time, Clerk of Court Tara Green said turnout may serve as an indicator of the level of concern about the virus.

    That level of concern will no doubt grow in a death penalty case, where jurors can expect to serve at least two weeks.

    Attorneys are also skeptical of a resumption of trials -- particularly defense lawyers, who must sit next to and consult with clients who typically reside in the Duval County Jail, where COVID-19 infection is rampant.

    Tillis next trial date is March 18, when Borello will hear two motions, including Tillis request to suppress what prosecutors say is a jailhouse confession.

    https://www.jacksonville.com/story/n...21/6707997002/
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  10. #30
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    5 things you need to know: 'House of Horrors' death penalty trial starts April 5

    After more than four years and eight postponements, the death penalty trial of Russell David Tillis, 59, is scheduled to get underway Monday morning at the Duval County Courthouse. Here are five things to know about the case:

    1. What is the case about?

    Tillis is charged with murder, kidnapping, human trafficking and abuse of a dead human body in the death of Joni Gunter, believed to be about 30 at the time of her death. In February 2016, Gunter’s dismembered remains were found buried in three holes in the backyard of Tillis’ Southside home at 3551 Bowen Circle E.

    2. What's at stake?

    Life and death. Tillis faces the death penalty if convicted for crimes the state has characterized as “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.” Tillis was first arrested in May 2015 on charges of aggravated assault and battery on police officers.
    Two JSO officers who tried to serve him with a warrant found his yard booby-trapped with razor blades and nails stuck into boards – one of which penetrated the foot of an officer.
    While in jail, a fellow inmate recorded Tillis confessing to holding multiple women captive in his house and sexually assaulting them. He also described killing at least one woman, and said there was a body buried on his property. After hearing the confession, police excavated Tillis’ backyard and found Gunter’s remains. (Tillis now claims he faked the confession in an effort to get the death penalty at a time when he was feeling particularly despondent.)

    3. How many confessions?

    According to prosecutors, Tillis confessed three times – twice to a jail inmate named Sammie Evans who was wearing a wire, and once to Prosecutor Alan Mizrahi. In the jailhouse recordings, Tills confessed to keeping women as captive sex slaves in a soundproofed room, and killing and dismembering at least two with a reciprocating saw. (Tillis does not dispute confessing, but claims he did so strategically, and that the confession was fale.)

    The third “confession” is only partially publicly available, but includes Tillis offering to plead guilty to Count 4 (abuse of a dead body) if Mizrahi agreed not to seek Habitual Offender status (see No. 5), and to drop the kidnapping and human trafficking charges. In exchange, Tillis said, he would provide a conversation secretly recorded conversations that would reveal “all the facts about how that [murder] occurred … who committed the crime, and how it was committed, and my involvement in the crime.”
    “Are you telling me you can testify against the person that killed Joni Gunter?” Mizrahi asked. “You call this guy in,” Tillis suggested. The party on the other end of the conversation is not law savvy.” (Tillis later said he fabricated the phone recording.)

    4. Other victims, other suspects?

    Police have always believed that Tillis had multiple other victims, and at least one alleged victim will be allowed to testify at trial. That woman testified at a recent hearing that Tillis chained her to a bed, raped and beat her. When she was able to escape, she testified, “I ran for my life.”
    Other women claim they were brutalized by Tillis but never reported it – either because they didn’t think they would be believed, or they didn’t believe anyone would care.

    Police have considered the possibility that Tillis had assistance with the murder and accomplices in sex trafficking. In the jailhouse recordings, Tillis claimed his brother Claude Tillis participated in the murder. Claude Tillis was interviewed by police but never charged. Tillis also named other men whom he says participated in the sexual exploitation of the women held captive in his home, but none have been charged.

    5. What are the possible outcomes?

    If convicted of the murder of Joni Gunter, Tillis faces the death penalty. Death penalty trials are held in two phases – a guilt phase and a penalty phase. Each phase has the same jury, but operate like independent trials, each with its own jury deliberations. If the jury finds Tillis guilty of first-degree murder but does not unanimously agree on the death penalty, they can find him guilty of what are known as “lesser included” crimes, like second degree murder.
    Prosecutors have also filed notice of intent to designate Tillis a Habitual Offender due to two prior felony convictions -- kidnapping in 1994 and child abuse in 2008. That designation would allow the judge to increase the statutory penalties on Count 3 (human trafficking) to life in prison instead of 30 years, and on Count 4 (abuse of a dead human body) from 15 to 30 years. Count 2 (kidnapping) is already punishable by life in prison and cannot be enhanced. As for Count 1, the death penalty is the maximum punishment allowed by law.
    Tillis could be convicted of all, some, or none of the four counts against him.

    By the numbers:

    600 hundred jury summons have gone out for the Tillis trial.
    404 potential jurors are expected to report for jury duty. The remainder has “either been excused or availed themselves of a postponement of their jury service,” according to the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office.
    Because of COVID courthouse rules, jurors will be vetted in four groups of 30 on Monday and Tuesday, until a jury is selected.
    Unlike other criminal trials in Florida, which only require six jurors, a death penalty case requires 12 jurors. At least two alternates will also be selected. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday, April 7, and the trial is expected to last two weeks.
    Since the case began, Tillis has cycled through at least 14 lawyers and represented himself pro se at several points. As he heads into trial, Tillis is represented by two lawyers – Charles Fletcher and Donald Mairs – and is also representing himself, something Circuit Judge Mark Borello has described as a “Gordian knot” of his own making.

    While Tillis has had numerous lawyers, Borello refused Tillis' request to fire his attorneys on at least 13 occasions.

    https://www.firstcoastnews.com/artic...f-fd367cf2b587
    Last edited by Julius; 04-03-2021 at 06:51 AM.

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