Gill found guilty, faces life in prison

Published 8:31 pm Monday, December 15, 2008

Vanessa Gill likely will spend the rest of her life in prison after her conviction of capital murder in the March 2006 beating death of her husband.

But her defense attorney, Julian McPhillips, said he’d appeal his client’s conviction and sentence of life without parole.

“I’m disgusted,” McPhillips said just minutes after the sentence was handed down Monday in Dallas County Circuit Court. “This is an enormous travesty of justice.”

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Gill’s trial lasted about three days last week. The jury deliberated nearly as long, returning its verdict Monday. Only 11 of the initial 12 jurors made the decision. One juror became ill during the process, according to authorities.

Prosecutors argued successfully that she hired her nephew, Curtis Cook, to bludgeon to death her husband. Lead prosecutor, assistant District Attorney Shannon Lynch, told the jury Gill’s husband cheated on her and controlled the family’s finances.

The defense had argued Cook beat the victim, Marshall Gill, to death with an aluminum baseball bat over a drug deal gone badly, and Vanessa Gill had nothing to do with her husband’s death.

McPhillips said he’d base his appeal on a couple of major factors. He said at one point during the trial Vanessa Gill’s family members told him they saw several jurors talking to “a person on the other side.”

Circuit Judge Jack Meigs had warned jurors during the trial not to talk about the testimony they heard with others.

Additionally, McPhillips said the jury was prejudiced against his client after Lynch passed out graphic photographs of the victim for them to view.

District Attorney Michael Jackson praised Lynch’s successful prosecution, saying if Vanessa Gill’s marriage was that bad, “she should have gotten a divorce instead of having someone kill her husband.”

He added, “This shows murder in Dallas County will be taken seriously.”