Billy Gilley Jr.
Billy Gilley's videotaped confession from 1984, taken just days after he bludgeoned to death his...
By sanne specht
An upbeat child took center stage just hours before tragedy struck.
A verdict is rendered in the Gilley murder trial, and one family member builds a new life.
First of two parts: A family is destroyed, a killer gets a new day in court, and a book tells the...
Twenty-four years after bludgeoning his parents and youngest sister to death, convicted murderer...
The sentence of life in prison has been overturned in the case of a man convicted of murdering his...
April 27, 1984: In the early morning hours, Billy Frank Gilley Jr., 18, bludgeons his sleeping mother and father to death. When his younger sister, Becky, 11, walks into the scene and screams, he beats her, too. Then he and sister, Jody, 16, go to a friend’s house to play cards. After Billy leaves that house, Jody calls police to report what happened. Oregon State Police troopers arrest Billy Gilley at home shortly after 3 a.m. He is arraigned that afternoon in Jackson County District Court and Judge Ray White appoints Medford attorney Steven Pickens to represent him.
April 29, 1984: Hospitalized, Becky Gilley dies of blunt force head trauma.
May 2, 1984: A Jackson County grand jury indicts Billy Gilley on three counts of aggravated murder.
May 31, 1984: After a psychological evaluation, Gilley enters not guilty pleas in Jackson County Circuit Court before Judge Mitchell Karaman.
June 27, 1984: Gilley undergoes a psychological examination by a Portland psychiatrist to help his attorney decide whether to pursue an insanity defense.
Sept. 18, 1984: Gilley, now 19, cuts his wrists in his jail cell, prompting additional psychiatric evaluations and delaying his trial, set to start Sept. 25.
Nov. 14, 1984: A jury of six men and six women is chosen, and the trial gets under way before Judge Karaman.
Nov. 15, 1984: Jody Gilley testifies, one of 10 prosecution witnesses, who also include OSP troopers called to the crime scene and medical examiners. Pickens cross-examines only Jody Gilley and calls no witnesses to the stand.
Nov. 16, 1984: Jurors return a guilty verdict on all three counts of aggravated murder after about eight hours of deliberation.
Dec. 27, 1984: Judge Karaman sentences Gilley to three consecutive life terms, saying he has heard no explanation for Gilley’s behavior. Gilley speaks in court for the first time since his arraignment.
January 1985: Gilley files an appeal, claiming lack of representation, but the Oregon Court of Appeals affirms the Circuit Court decision later in 1985 without issuing an opinion, Oregon Department of Justice records show.
Oct. 12, 1994: Gilley files a civil case in Marion County Circuit Court seeking post-conviction relief that could change his sentence.
July 8, 1997: Post-conviction relief is denied, but Gilley appeals. His appeal is dismissed about 11 months later.
July 14, 1998: Gilley files a petition in U.S. District Court for a writ of habeas corpus to appeal his conviction and sentence, claiming he was inadequately represented.
Dec. 30, 2004: U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Ashmanskas finds that Gilley’s defense was “below the objective standard of reasonableness.” Better representation that brought up past abuse and Gilley’s mental state at the time of the killings could have brought about a different verdict, so Gilley is entitled to a new trial, the findings say.
March 16, 2005: The Oregon Department of Justice objects and says the evidence does not support a new trial. The state asks U.S. District Judge Anna Brown to overrule Ashmanskas.
Nov. 9, 2005: U.S. District Judge Brown vacates the convictions and calls for a new trial.
Dec. 7, 2005: The state appeals, sending the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Aug. 31, 2007: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the U.S. District Court opinion that Gilley’s attorney provided ineffective counsel during the sentencing phase of his trial. The convictions stand, but the life sentences are overturned.
May 14, 2008: U.S. Magistrate Judge Ashmanskas signs the order upholding the convictions, but calling for new sentencing.
May 21, 2008: At 42, Billy Gilley returns to Jackson County Jail from the Snake River Correction Center in Ontario to await resentencing.
May 22, 2008: Gilley appears in Jackson County Circuit Court to launch a new sentencing process. Circuit Court Judge Ron Grensky gives Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston and his deputy Beth Heckert, along with defense attorney Paul Beneke, three months to review decades-old files and prepare arguments for a new sentencing.