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March 11, 2014

Gilliam’s murder appeal denied

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The woman charged - and acquitted - of killing her lawyer husband in January 2011 is free of all charges, according to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The decision was handed down on Friday, determining that an appeal from Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele’s office against Lisa Gilliam fell under the “double jeopardy” clause and could not be appealed.

Gilliam was charged with the Jan. 7, 2011 shooting death of her husband, London attorney Larry Gilliam. A two-day trial in October 2012 ended with the jury failing to reach a unanimous decision of Gilliam’s guilt or innocence in the case.

Special Judge Robert McGinnis who presided over the case then granted the directed verdict to acquit Gilliam of the murder charge - in accordance with Kentucky statutes - on the basis that “it would be clearly unreasonable for a jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But 27th Judicial Circuit’s Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele filed an appeal before the Kentucky Court of Appeals just after the directed verdict was rendered and the case has been before the appellate court since that time.

The decision from the Court of Appeals stated that Gilliam’s attorneys, Scott Foster and Robert Norfleet, filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as a violation of double jeopardy.

“For the reasons hereinafter set forth, we agree that this appeal should be dismissed,” the judges conferring the case wrote. “The constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy is a cornerstone of our criminal justice system and is guaranteed by both the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Section 13 of the Kentucky Constitution. This double jeopardy prohibition is founded upon the basic tenant that a ‘defendant should not be tried twice or punished for the same offense......The United States Supreme Court observed that ‘the most fundamental rule in the history of double jeopardy jurisprudence [is].....that [a] verdict of acquittal...could not be revived, on error or otherwise....”

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