Gilley trial: Mother's friend recalls a troubled family

The former best friend of Billy Gilley's mother testified in court this morning that he was a troubled youth who had abused animals and that his sister Jody may have influenced him to murder most of his family.

"I do believe that Jody, in some sense, motivated or encouraged him," said Frances Stroup, who described herself as the best friend of Gilley's mother, Linda, who died in the murders.

Stroup testified in Jackson County Circuit Court this morning as Judge Ray White heard arguments in the resentencing hearing of Gilley, convicted as a teenager in 1984 of the brutal murders of his sister Becky and his parents.

Gilley, appearing thinner than in recent photos and dressed in a suit and tie, also was in the courtroom today.

He never has denied he committed the murders. At issue this week is whether he will serve his three life sentences consecutively, as a judge ruled originally, or concurrently. If White rules they can be served concurrently, Gilley will be eligible for parole soon.

Today, Stroup showed photos of the Gilley family and said she didn't see excessive physical punishment from Billy Gilley Sr. or Linda Gilley toward their children. She described them, however, as verbally abusive "parents at the end of their rope" with smart-mouthed, misbehaving children.

She testified that Billy was a slight and unassuming teen, "sort of, kind of" feminine and not muscular like his father. She said Billy had abused animals and that he'd been mean to a cat or dog and that the animal had died.

She also described Jody as an unhappy girl who "thought she was better than the other children" in the family.

— Staff reports

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.