Gilligan Claims Self-Defense in Statements to Police; DA Paints Different Picture of Davis Murder

Murder suspect Hayley Gilligan with former Attorney Mark Reichel in late October

Prosecutor Steve Mount of the Yolo County DA’s Office began Thursday’s preliminary hearing by playing a 911 recording of the call that Hayley Gilligan placed to dispatch in the moments after she fatally shot and killed her self-described ex-boyfriend Jamie Kinseth, 35, whom she claimed to have shot in self-defense.

During the 911 call on October 20, 2018, she told dispatch that her ex-boyfriend broke in, started verbally abusing her, “calling her every name in the book,” then attempted to hit her and grab a knife in the kitchen, which is when she shot him.

At the time, she described him as unconscious and not breathing, while dispatch attempted to get details out of her while also making sure the weapon was secured.

Later in questioning captured on body worn camera footage from Officer Sandeep Maan, who took the stand on Thursday, she explained to the officer that she and her family were about to go to Disneyland, when Mr. Kinseth showed up. She described having a two-year relationship with him from 2014 to 2016, after which for the two previous years they saw each other on and off.

She explained that they had broken up in October 2016 and that he had not been to her current apartment and she had not seen him in “awhile,” describing that it had “been a few months.”

While she described herself as freaking out as she stood in night clothing, she spoke clearly and calmly with the first responding officers.

She described to Officer Maan, later joined by Mathew Muscardini of the Davis Police, as having “let him in,” when an “argument” ensued.  She said that “he was trying to grab a knife,” “I thought he had a knife,” she said she felt unsafe, she called the police and grabbed her gun. “It looked like he had something in his hand.”

She then described that, as she shot him, hitting him in the side of the head, he fell down near the couch (which was downstairs) and she placed a blanket under his head.

However, the testimony of Officer Tony Dias and Detective Josh Helton began to cast doubt on this account of the shooting.

Officer Dias described in great detail the blood on the arm of the sofa near the front door.  He also described the gun as a Ruger 380 caliber handgun.

He described that he searched the one-bedroom apartment, finding blood spatters in the interior closet – upstairs.

He found a dresser filled with male clothing, which he described as “very full” to the point where it was difficult to close the drawers.  In response to a question from Judge Paul Richardson, who presided over the matter, there were no female articles of clothing found in this dresser.

There was also a blue suitcase which had prescription medicine with Jamie Kinseth’s name on the bottles.

He found a gray travel bag with the gun box and a pair of pink women’s pajamas, which had blood stains on the leg.

There was a pillow in a white trash bag underneath the bed drenched in blood and what looked to be gray tissue (some sort of organic matter).

Both sides agreed to two pieces of stipulated evidence for the purpose of the preliminary hearing.  The first piece of evidence was a Siamese cat that was found near the apartment, registered to Jamie Kinseth.

Second, an autopsy done by Catherine Raven indicated that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head along the hairline from front to back and slightly left to right, in a slightly downward trajectory.

Detective Helton would elaborate on this evidence.  He showed a close up view of the Mr. Kinseth’s skull, shaved clean of hair, which showed the single gunshot wound.  He described markings on his head as being known as “stippling” or tattooing.  He testified in explanation that this type of injury occurs when gun powder comes into contact with the skin at close range and will “only occur at certain distances.”

He testified that at under 12 inches in range it would produce a clear and discernible pattern, whereas once the gun is shot from at least 40 inches away you would not see any at all.

Based on his training and experience, he testified, “This close pattern, this thick, is less than 12 inches away, maybe even less than six.”

Ms. Raven estimated that the gun was fired at a range of 12 inches, with 18 inches at the very maximum range.

Detective Helton added that, in his training and experience “this would, in this location, the person would not have been able to move after being shot.”

He testified, “The bullet was recovered from inside of the skull,” and added, “There was no exit wound.”

Detective Helton was also able to track down the purchase of the firearm to Kilroy’s in West Sacramento.  The purchase of the weapon began on October 3, 2018.  It was completed on October 17, 2018.

Detective Helton noted that under California law there is a 14-day waiting period.  In addition, in order to purchase a weapon, she had to show some proficiency in the use of the weapon.  She explained to the employee at Kilroy’s that she took certification classes online and that the reason for the purchase was “for defense.”

She also chose this weapon because there was a digital indicator that the chamber was loaded, that it had a safety, and a “heavy trigger pull.”

She also purchased plastic dummy rounds for training on how to load the weapon and a box of 20 rounds of ammunition for the weapon that would come with a magazine.

At this point, the preliminary hearing was concluded for the day with resumption of testimony expected late Friday morning.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Edgar Wai

    I hope that she gets convicted of murder. I hope that people get further a bigger sentence or additional sentence for lying to the court. Murder, not pleading guilty, then lying should be worse than murder then plead guilty and be honest.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Except trajectory of death wound, distance from muzzle to wound, and lack of info of where she had the gun before the supposed alleged ‘attack’… none fit with the self-defense theory… nor does the blood found in upstairs closet, and the other blood evidence.
        Equally likely that, if true, he was seeking a knife (nothing in narrative to indicate that one was found, either on his person or proximity… why is there no mention of a real knife by either prosecution or defense), to protect himself (thereby, self-defense on HIS part), when confronted with the defendant displaying a gun.
        There is little or no evidence presented in this article that go to self defense or not, except the word of the alleged victim… the other person, who may have been the victim, will not testify, unless a seance is allowed as ‘testimony’… as to that issue of the determination of self defense, looks like it will be “she said, he said nothing (he is in no condition to refute)”…
        It’ll be a “wait-and-see” until the trial really goes forward… things ‘smell funny’, tho’….

      2. Edgar Wai

        Not fact, but interpolated from the evidence of the pillow with grey matter:
        The man was sleeping when the woman shot her. Then the woman tried to hid all kinds of evidence and moved the body downstairs. The woman lied about the location and what the man was doing when she shot him.

        1. David Greenwald

          The DA is definitely arguing that he was sleeping on the couch and she walked up and shot him at very close range. He’s arguing (with good evidence) that the physical evidence and the crime scene does not match her description.

          However, the defense basically played possum here – they didn’t put on a defense during the preliminary hearing. Do they have a defense? It will probably be that she was a victim of DV and saw herself trapped in an abusive relationship that she could not escape. I’m not saying that shell prevail on that, but we definitely have not seen what the defense has.

    1. Ryan Davis

      1. I don’t see an indication she lied to the court. If she did, she could conceivably be prosecuted for perjury. But it seems to me that would be a waste of resources. 

      2. You shouldn’t (and it’s already been decided, you legally can’t) be punished for exercising your constitutional rights to a jury trial, against self-incrimination. etc.

    2. John Hobbs

      This is not a totalitarian state, yet. She is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. As others have pointed out she has rights to a jury trial and a competent if not vigorous defense.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Yet, in the VG headline, it uses the term “murder“, not “killing”, not “death”, not “passing”, not “shooting”…

      Not “murder charge“, but “murder”…

      It’s a ‘wait and see’…

    1. David Greenwald

      You might be thinking of someone else, Gocke is pretty good, he got an acquittal in one of the message therapist sexual battery cases recently, just off the top of my head.

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