October 25, 2012

Judge approves acquittal for Gilliam

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The wife of late London attorney Larry Gilliam walked free on Friday after Special Judge Robert McGinnis upheld a motion for acquittal in her case.

Lisa Gilliam was facing a new trial after a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision in her murder trial last month. Gilliam was charged with shooting her husband, Larry Gilliam, in his office on East Fourth Street on Jan. 7, 2011. During a three-day trial in mid-September, a 9-woman, 3-man jury could not come to an agreement on whether Gilliam shot her husband of only four months, thus causing his death or whether the attorney shot himself as the defense attorneys argued throughout the case.

Gilliam’s attorneys, Scott Foster and Robert Norfleet of Somerset, filed a motion for a “directed verdict of acquittal” just two days after the trial ended. They had previously filed two similar motions in Gilliam’s case, both of which were denied.

On Friday, McGinnis ruled in favor of the defense attorneys, stating he had had time to weigh the motion and review the case.

“The judge said he had had time to think about the case and he ruled for the acquittal,” Foster said. “This is the first time in the history since I’ve been practicing law that I’ve ever heard of a directed verdict of acquittal in a murder case and we think the judge made a wise decision.”

Gilliam’s murder trial began on Sept. 17 and ended Sept. 19 after the jury could not agree on a verdict after nearly five hours of deliberations. They first had questions involving the case. McGinnis sent the panel back into deliberations a second time, and approximately an hour later, they once again announced that they were not in total agreement on a verdict.

“The judge said the jury was 10 to 2, in favor of a not guilty verdict,” Foster said.

“Robert and I are thrilled for our client,” he continued. “We’re thankful this nightmare is over for Lisa. Now she can grieve for Larry like she’s not been allowed to do since he committed suicide.”

Foster said the ruling could be appealed by the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, but that must be filed within the next 30 days. Should that happen, the case will then go before the Court of Appeals, which is comprised of 14 appellate judges across the state. Foster said he could not predict whether the case would be appealed, although he expected that would happen.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, who prosecuted the case, could not be reached for comment. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Harold Dyche, who assisted in the case against Gilliam, declined commenting on the case.