It took jurors less than a full work day to side with the prosecution and find Johan Gillette guilty of murdering two people, handing up a pair of aggravated murder convictions on Wednesday that could make Gillette the newest resident of Oregon's death row.
The jury also found Gillette, 36, guilty of intentional murder under a separate theory of why the double homicide took place. And the panel convicted Gillette of first-degree animal abuse, a misdemeanor, for clubbing a family dog that subsequently had to be euthanized.
Gillette showed no reaction as he sat at the defense table while Lane County Circuit Judge Ilisa Rooke-Ley read the jury's verdicts. He spoke with his attorneys or sat quietly in a nearly silent but packed courtroom as Rooke-Ley polled the jury to confirm their unanimous vote.
"We acknowledge the legitimacy of the jury's verdict and we accept the verdict," defense attorney Mark Sabitt said after all 12 jurors signed a series of forms attesting to their votes.
Gillette now faces a death penalty hearing, a procedure similar to a trial that will determine whether he should be sentenced to death by lethal injection. The hearing will begin Wednesday and is expected to last at least several days and possibly longer.
A panel of seven women and five men essentially ruled that Gillette intentionally killed both his father, James Frederick Gillette, 73, and his father's domestic partner, former University of Oregon music school dean Anne Dhu McLucas, 71, as part of a single criminal episode. Under Oregon law, killing more than one person in the same criminal event constitutes aggravated murder, and Gillette was convicted of one count of that crime for killing James Gillette and another count for killing McLucas.
The state also charged Gillette under an additional aggravated murder theory, that he killed McLucas to eliminate the only person who could identify him as his father's killer. But the jury apparently did not feel the prosecutor proved that element and convicted Gillette on the lesser charge of intentional murder.
But since Gillette was convicted of aggravated murder under the two-victim theory, it is unlikely he will face a separate sentencing on the intentional murder charge. Instead, that charge could merge with the aggravated murder charge for sentencing.
James Gillette and McLucas both died from multiple crushing blows to the head and were found in the blood-soaked bedroom of the home they shared on Needham Road south of Eugene on Sept. 7, 2012. McLucas was mortally injured but still alive and died the next day at a hospital.
Gillette later acknowledged the killings, but said he acted in self-defense after an argument with his volatile father turned deadly and the older man reached for a gun he carried in a waist holster. Gillette said he picked up something like a wrench that he found on the floor to defend himself, and in the ensuing struggle someone jumped on him from behind. He struck at that person as well, not knowing it was McLucas, he testified.
But Deputy District Attorney Stephen Morgan claimed Gillette killed out of a fierce rage that erupted when his father threatened to throw him and his girlfriend out of the trailer they shared on the father's property. Morgan stressed the violence and number of blows, all to the victims' heads, and a number of inconsistencies and lies in Gillette's interview with police and his testimony on the witness stand.
The makeup of the jury changed for deliberations and a man who was among the alternate jurors took the seat of a woman who apparently was dismissed.
It was not immediately clear why, but earlier in the trial the woman indicated she was acquainted with one of the witnesses, although she remained on the panel through the rest of the trial.
Jurors began deliberating about 3 p.m. Tuesday and announced they had a verdict shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, after taking about an hour off for lunch. That works out to about seven hours of discussion, a quick decision given the amount of evidence they had to consider and the many permutations they could have faced in forming verdicts.
Morgan declined comment after court adjourned, saying the case isn't yet over. Dan Koenig, Gillette's other defense attorney, simply noted that they now must prepare for what amounts to a whole new trial to determine the sentence.
"We'll be moving forward for that phase and going from there," he said.
James Franklin Gillette, Johan Gillette's younger brother, also declined comment on Wednesday, saying it was not time yet. He has been present every day of his brother's trial.
In the sentencing phase, the same jurors who convicted Gillette will decide the sentence. They essentially will have to answer four questions: whether the killings were deliberate; whether the killings were unreasonable in response to any provocation; whether Gillette presents a continuing threat to society; and whether he should be put to death.
If the jury votes against the death penalty, Gillette will be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. However, he would be sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after 30 years if at least 10 jurors believe there is sufficient mitigating evidence to support the lesser sentence.
This will be the first death penalty sentencing proceeding held in Lane County since 2011, when jurors sentenced Angela McAnulty to death for the torture and murder of her 15-year old daughter, Jeanette. That proceeding lasted four weeks.
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