November 23, 2011

Gilliam trial to stay in London

Judge denies motion to move murder trial to another county

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The wife accused of killing her husband, London attorney Larry Gilliam, will remain under the same bond and will face the justice system in Laurel County.

Special Judge Robert McGinnis denied motions by Gilliam’s attorney, Robert Norfleet of Somerset, to move her trial from London to another county during a hearing in Laurel Circuit Court on Wednesday. McGinnis also denied reducing Gilliam’s $100,000 cash bond, despite her attorney’s stance that the bond be lowered due to Gilliam’s voluntary surrender to police and her consistency in appearing for court hearings.

The basis for the motions were due to the high publicity Gilliam’s death received throughout the county. A practicing attorney in the area for the past eight years, Larry Gilliam was well known throughout Laurel and adjoining counties. He had also practiced before both circuit court judges, which resulted in the appointment of Special Judge McGinnis in March. Laurel Circuit Judge  Greg Lay recused himself from hearing the case due to his acquaintance with both Larry and Lisa Gilliam, resulting in McGinnis’ appointment.

Conversations on the London Topix and other Internet communication sources were another reason Gilliam’s attorney cited for filing the motion last month. Attached with that motion were statements from two local pastors, stating they did not feel Lisa Gilliam could receive a fair trial.

McGinnis denied the change of venue for the case based on the fact that posts on Topix and other Internet sources are anonymous and such claims posted on those sites cannot be proven.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, who is prosecuting the case, said he agreed wholeheartedly with McGinnis’ decision.

“Based on the Defense (attorney’s) motion, I believe the judge’s decision is the correct one,” Steele said.

Lisa Gilliam is scheduled for another pretrial hearing on Jan. 5 and her trial on the charge of murder is set for March 5 in Laurel Circuit Court.

The change of venue filed by Gilliam’s attorneys states that she could not get a fair trial in London where her now deceased husband was well known. Steele said he believed that interviewing potential jurors would eliminate those who may have any partiality for or against Gilliam.

“Out of 100 people that we talk to (as jurors), if we can’t find 32 who have no knowledge of this case, then we will have to change the venue,” he said.

It was a hectic downtown scene on the afternoon of Jan. 7 as police and emergency workers swarmed Larry Gilliam’s East Fourth Street office after a 9-1-1 call stating the attorney had shot himself. Lisa Gilliam and her husband were the sole occupants of the office when Larry Gilliam reportedly shot himself in the chest in a suicide attempt, Lisa Gilliam claimed. Larry Gilliam was taken to Saint Joseph-London where he was pronounced dead just an hour after the shooting incident.

Police investigating the case were tight-lipped with details of the investigation until Lisa Gilliam’s indictment in March. Accompanied by her attorney Scott Foster of Somerset, she turned herself in to police just days later and was officially charged with murder and taken to the Laurel County Detention Center. She posted the $100,000 cash bond and was released just hours after being charged and remains free until her trial date.