Defense attorneys for Johan Gillette rested their case Tuesday after spending most of the day presenting evidence on the explosive temper of Gillette's father, one of two victims of a killing that has Gillette on trial for aggravated murder.
It will now be up to Deputy District Attorney Stephen Morgan to decide whether to call any rebuttal witnesses before the two sides begin their closing arguments. Those arguments could start as early as this afternoon.
After that, Gillette's fate will be in the hands of the eight-woman, four-man jury, which so far has listened to 13 days of testimony from prosecution and defense witnesses. It will be up to jurors to decide whether Gillette killed his father and his father's domestic partner in an angry rage, as the state believes, or in self-defense, as Gillette has claimed.
Gillette took the stand in his own defense last week and spent a full day testifying.
If the panel finds Gillette guilty of aggravated murder in either death, he could face the death penalty. Attorneys would present further evidence on the death penalty question to the jury in a separate sentencing hearing that could run for several days or more.
On Tuesday, Gillette's mother, Geraldine Gillette, testified about several incidents in which James Gillette lost his temper and threw things in her direction or damaged property. The defense has made James Gillette's propensity for angry outbursts part of their client's self-defense claim, saying they contributed to Gillette's fear of his father.
Geraldine Gillette testified about three episodes. In one, which took place when Gillette was just 6 months old, James Gillette threw a milk carton that hit her on the knee and then hit the baby on the cheek, causing him to cry, she said.
The other two happened when Gillette was 3 or 4 years old, Geraldine Gillette said. In one, James Gillette allegedly threw a picnic cooler toward them that hit and damaged their car, and in the other James Gillette got so mad he kicked a hole in a bathroom door, she said.
Geraldine Gillette said her opinion was that James Gillette was an "aggressive, violent and explosive" person.
That was almost exactly what several other people said in their testimony earlier in the day. Those witnesses included a former girlfriend of James Gillette, two people who live near the house in Needham Road where James Gillette lived, and four Eugene firefighters who worked with James Gillette in the 1980s.
Retired Eugene firefighter Gale Sperry was one of the now-retired firefighters who worked with James Gillette in the Eugene Fire Department. Sperry said he was working with James Gillette in 1983 and one day asked Gillette how he expected to continue working for the fire department in light of his behavior.
Sperry said James Gillette put on his "ugly face," got close to him and threatened him.
"Any son of a bitch that would get me fired from this job, I'll kill him," Sperry said James Gillette told him.
Another former firefighter, Rich Force, testified that one day James Gillette drove to work in a car that had 500 to 700 dents in it and at one point went out to the car with a ball-peen hammer and hit it some more in an apparent fit of anger.
Micki Dwelley, a former girlfriend of James Gillette who lived with him in the 1980s, also testified about violent incidents with James Gillette. Among them was, she said, a time when he broke her nose with a head butt and another when he threw a bottle of ketchup against a wall.
Dwelley said she never knew what was going to set off James Gillette's explosive temper.
"It could be absolutely anything or nothing," she said.
Several of Johan Gillette's friends dating back to his days as an elementary school and high school student in the Hillsboro area were called Tuesday as character witnesses. All three said they believe Gillette to be a "peaceful and nonviolent" person.
Johan Gillette is accused of murdering James Gillette and Anne Dhu McLucas, his father's domestic partner, in September 2012 at the Needham Road home. Both died of multiple, violent blows to the head with some kind of club, possibly a wrench.
The state alleges that Johan Gillette killed the couple in a rage after his father threatened to kick him and his girlfriend out of a trailer on the father's property. But Gillette claims he acted in self-defense when his father reached for a gun during an argument.
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