The final act in the aggravated murder trial of Johan Gillette will come Friday, when attorneys make their closing arguments and the jury retires to decide whether two people died in a double murder or Gillette acted in self-defense.
After calling three final witnesses Wednesday, a state prosecutor ended his case. Today, attorneys will argue any final motions and the judge will decide what instructions to give the eight-woman, four-man jury after closing arguments.
The defense is expected to ask Lane County Circuit Judge Ilisa Rooke-Ley to acquit Gillette of aggravated murder, claiming that the state failed to prove its case. Rooke-Ley denied a similar motion that was made after the state initially rested its primary case.
Because the state has the burden of proving a defendant's guilt, it is allowed to call additional witnesses after the defense rests its case, in what is known as a rebuttal case. Similarly, the state makes closing arguments first, followed by the defense and then a final presentation by the state.
On Wednesday morning, Deputy District Attorney Stephen Morgan called back to the stand a pathologist and forensic scientist who testified earlier.
He also called a search and rescue volunteer who coordinated a search of the property where Gillette lived. The testimony of all three was aimed at refuting Gillette's claim of self-defense.
Gillette, 36, is accused of murdering his father, James Gillette, 73, and his father's domestic partner, Anne Dhu McLucas, 71, at the home the couple shared south of Eugene. Both died from multiple, violent blows to the head.
If convicted of aggravated murder, Gillette faces a possible death sentence. But before that, the jury would hear additional evidence in a sentencing hearing that probably would last for several days to a week.
Morgan claims that Gillette killed his father in an angry rage after the elder man threatened to kick Gillette and his girlfriend out of the trailer where they lived on the father's Needham Road property. But Gillette testified that he bludgeoned the pair after his father reached for a gun during an argument and McLucas jumped on him from behind.
On Wednesday, Morgan called forensic scientist Traci Rose back to go over blood evidence. Gillette said McLucas was sitting up when he landed at least some of the blows to her head -- not realizing who it was -- and that his father was lying on the bed and then was on one hand and his knees when Gillette struck him.
But Rose said the blood spatter patterns do not support that scenario. She said the victims' heads had to have been on or close to the floor when they were struck.
Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Dan Davis also returned to the stand. He testified that the bodies of James Gillette and McLucas showed no significant injuries from a blunt object other than those to their heads.
Gillette testified that he was swinging indiscriminately at the two, suggesting he may have hit them on other parts of their bodies. But defense attorneys pointed out that Gillette said he didn't know where all his blows landed.
Also testifying was Nick Wedmore, the county search and rescue volunteer who coordinated a search of the Gillette property. He said searchers never found anything that looked like it could have been the weapon that Gillette used.
Gillette said he grabbed something off the floor to defend himself but didn't know exactly what it was. It has been described in court as a wrench or something similar.
Gillette said he doesn't know what happened to the weapon, only that he had it when he walked out of his father's house in a daze and didn't have it a short time later when he went into his trailer only a few yards away. Wedmore said about a dozen people searched the area thoroughly over two days but did not find the weapon.
But he said they did find an old well not far from the house. The cap was off the well casing, but efforts to drop a magnet down to see if it could retrieve anything at the bottom were unsuccessful because of the iron in the well pipe, he said.
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