Gilligan to Stand Trial on First Degree Murder Charges

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

By David Greenwald, Elizabeth Griffiths, Lemuel Herg and Pedro Maturana

After two days of preliminary hearing, Judge Paul Richardson found more than sufficient evidence to hold Hayley Gilligan to answer on first degree murder charges for shooting and killing her on-again off-again boyfriend, Jamie Kinseth, on October 20, 2018.

Prosecutor Steve Mount noted the discrepancies between the account given in the 911 call and to investigators immediately after exiting her home on October 20, and the physical evidence.

The defendant originally told investigators that an ex-boyfriend, whom she hadn’t seen in person for months, came to her apartment and “barged his way in,” when she was expecting her sister and mother to pick her up to take her to Disneyland. She ran upstairs to get her phone and the gun which she had recently purchased, then she thought he had a gun and shot him in self-defense as he started to turn toward her.

“The evidence that we put on since then shows that that whole story is patently untrue,” Mr. Mount argued.  “The physical evidence at the scene did not match the story that Ms. Gilligan told.”

Instead, he argued that Mr. Kinseth “most likely was asleep on the couch downstairs when Hayley Gilligan came downstairs and shot him at a range of  a foot to six inches.

“He was shot in the head at very close range,” he reiterated.

Mr. Mount noted that, contrary to her claims to friends and others that he was out of the picture but stalking and harassing her, text messages downloaded from her phone for at least a month show that they “were in a co-habitating relationship.

“One could question whether it was healthy, whether it was co-dependent, or anything else,” he said, but “she certainly expressed to Mr. Kinseth affection.”  As did he toward her.

Mr. Mount argued that she chose to end the relationship by ending Mr. Kinseth’s life.  “This is not a sudden thing that happened,” he said.  “This is something that she planned.”

He argued that, whether she wanted to be in the relationship or not, “she was in it and she couldn’t figure a way out of it.”

She planned the killing, according to the prosecution.  Mr. Mount noted that she is telling her friends that her ex-boyfriend is stalking her, she hopes that she’s covering her tracks.  And the prosecution is able to show that at the same time, she is texting him before and after several social engagements.

Mount argued, “She’s setting up in advance herself defense claims.”  He argued, “She didn’t buy that gun for self-defense, she bought that gun to end her relationship with Jamie Kinseth.  She bought that gun to kill him.  That was the sole reason for which she bought that gun.”

He concluded, arguing that when she decided to end the relationship, she did it without “any warning to him” and without giving him any alternative to leave.

He said that Jamie Kinseth was “lying on the couch when she walked downstairs and he never knew what hit him.”

Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke very briefly stated that he could point to “many things in this particular case.”  He said that he could go on with all of the problems in their relationship, the domestic violence, and the abuse that Ms. Gilligan suffered from Mr. Kinseth.

He said he could explain “what a domestic violence relationship entails.

“But I know this isn’t a trial,” he said.  “I know this is a preliminary hearing.  I know what the burden of proof is and so I’m not going to talk for ten minutes and present my full arguments today.  I’m going to submit to the court to issue a ruling.”

Judge Richardson carefully weighed the evidence in this matter and held Hayley Gilligan to answer on the murder charges with an enhancement for personal use of a gun.

Judge Richardson pointed out that we are in a new era of body cameras which allows us to capture instantaneously and accurately what happened in the moments following the incident when Ms. Gilligan first spoke to investigators.

“We did hear her (initial) story, we also heard the story of what the physical evidence has shown,” the Judge said.  The story given that the defendant and Mr. Kinseth were apart and he didn’t know where she was residing, and “certainly the evidence says something far different from that.

“The story that she was in fear of him finding her location cannot be true, given at least the physical evidence that was presented,” he said.

They seemed to have a corrigible relationship, based on testimony from people who knew them and as reflected in the text messages.  However, the judge said, “there is also troubling information as well – the language that was used…”  He noted in one of the conversations when she told him that her family was going to stay there, he called her a “c–t” at least 50 times.

“Could the person be angry?” he asked.  “One could understand the anger of it, but one would hope one would understand that it was circumstance where you have to bow to family relationships.”

The judge was troubled by her lack of truth telling, but also what the physical evidence tells us in this case.  He reference the couch, the close range nature of the wound and the pillow with a large amount of blood, suggesting it was on that couch at the time Mr. Kinseth was shot.

The judge asked why a person, planning to go on a trip to Disneyland with family coming over – “would that be the time when you choose to shoot someone in the head that you were living with?

“We don’t have the answer to that question,” he said. 

“The court having heard all of the evidence here entertains a strong suspicious… that the type of evidence here is evidence from which a jury can reasonably infer that the defendant freely and deliberately and premeditatively killed Mr. Kinseth,” he said.

She is scheduled to be arraigned on the information on February 15.

Forensic Examination Indicates Close Range Gunshot Wound in Davis Murder Trial

By Pedro Maturana

The trial of Davis resident Hayley Gilligan resumed Friday with the prosecution calling back Detective Josh Helton to the stand. Gilligan faces murder charges for the death of Jamie Kinseth who was killed from a single gunshot wound to the head on October 20, 2018.

Prosecuting attorney Steve Mount asked Helton about his investigation into the Ruger firearm that Gilligan used to shoot Kinseth. Gilligan purchased the gun in October of 2018 from Kilroy’s gun store in West Sacramento. She also purchased ammunition, gun cleaner, and snap caps (a training tool) with the gun.

After the incident, the gun and ammo were sent to the Department of Justice for examination. Helton described the credentials of the criminalist who made a report on the gun. He has been a criminalist at the Department of Justice for 16 years and the senior criminalist for 10 years. He’s had 450 hours of forensic firearm examination training with the California Criminalist Institute.

Helton testified that the criminalist examined the same gun with the same ammo that was used in the murder. The gun was shot at different distances to test the effect of the bullet on a target media that simulated human skin. The criminalist was looking for the presence of residue and stippling, or “tattooing,” on the media. The stippling allows for examiners to determine the distance of the muzzle of the gun to the target.

Helton testified that the criminalist gave the caveat that any interference between the gun and the media, or shooting at a different angle, would produce different results. Additionally, the media used in the exam was flat, while human skin is not.

Helton explained that the autopsy of Mr. Kinseth revealed a two-inch diameter of stippling around the wound. Helton asked the criminalist for his opinion of the distance from which the gun was shot, given the stippling on Kinseth’s wound. The criminalist estimated that the distance between the muzzle and the target was less than six inches.

Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke questioned Mr. Helton about the gun store where Gilligan purchased the firearm. Gocke asked if Kilroy’s was a for-profit business whose intent was to sell additional items to Gilligan, including the cleaning supply kit, targets, snap caps, and ammunition. Mr. Helton did not deny this.

Gocke also questioned Helton on his conversation with Catherine Raven who did Kinseth’s autopsy. He asked if it is possible for a person who is covered with a blanket to get gunshot residue on their hands. Helton claimed that he did not know enough to give an answer.

Mr. Helton also gave testimony of talking to a Karen Foster, one of Gilligan’s friends. It was there that Foster mentioned that Gilligan said Jamie was calling her profanities and stalking her.

Supposed “Ex-boyfriend” Story Goes into Question as Text Messages and Other Evidence Is Revealed in Court

By Lemuel Herg

Janell Bestpitch, a Davis peace officer since May 2001 and a detective of nearly five years, stepped up to the stand as the next witness. She was one of the original people on called onto the scene of the incident on F Street, and in her testimony claimed to have had a long discussion with the defendant, Hayley Gilligan, after finding her in the back of a police car.

After they got to the police station, they talked—this is Gilligan’s side of the story. Gilligan met Kinseth when he worked at the same shop as her sister.  But trouble began in May of 2016 when her sister broke up with her boyfriend and wanted to move in with Gilligan, a move that Kinseth did not approve of. He was upset, but, even more than that, Gilligan’s family did not approve of Kinseth at all due to his unemployment. When Kinseth’s mother passed away, things reached a breaking point and they apparently broke up, according to the other witnesses. But behind the scenes, Gilligan moved in with Kinseth at their “Rancho” place—at this point, Gilligan kept this a secret, due to her family’s disapproval of their relationship, and from this point on she allegedly kept everything about Kinseth a secret from them. Then, in September 2017, Gilligan moved to F Street in Davis. Gilligan claimed that the entire time she was just trying to help out Kinseth—she helped him with his marijuana deliveries, taking him to the doctor, and overall Gilligan claims that she felt bad after the passing away of his mother.

Gilligan told her friends that she was being stalked, and eventually she herself called 911 after the incident. When the police investigators came, she immediately told the police that her ex-boyfriend broke into her house and she just committed self-defense.

After Bestpitch’s testimony of talking to the defendant, Steve Mount, the prosecutor, presented his first evidence: Bestpitch’s analysis of Gilligan’s text messages. As she showed the text messages to the court, the first noticeable detail was the contact name given to the victim—the name “cheeks,” and with it came a picture of the late Kinseth. The text messages available on Gilligan’s phone were from September 20, 2018, to the date of the shooting, October 20, 2018. Within the contents of the text messages were what can only be described as a domestic, affectionate relationship with many “smooches,” “I love yous,” and kissing or heart emojis—all the way up to the day of the alleged crime itself, with the final message of Gilligan sending something as trivial as asking Kinseth if he would want any toilet paper on her way back home.

Steve Mount, after showing the text messages, showed his second piece of evidence: the crime photos. The important thing to note was the way the blood pooled on the spot of the shooting, on the couch. Furthermore, there was found to be a blood-soaked pillow hidden under Gilligan’s bed—presumably the pillow would be from the couch, where the prosecution said the victim was shot.

Bestpitch also brought up the late victim’s medical record. He would often see a Doctor Swales, his primary physician. Kinseth would see his doctor about seven to ten times a year, and every time his, as Kinseth called it, “girlfriend” Hayley Gilligan, would come with him.

Joseph Gocke afterward started his cross-examination with Bestpitch, and focused on two important facts. The first was that Gilligan had actually tried to get assistance from law enforcement before, on September 3, 2017, while she was living with Kinseth in Rancho Cordova. Furthermore, she also had called for suicide prevention twice before on Kinseth, who threatened to kill himself if she broke up with him. For the second point, Gocke pointed out that often in domestic abuse cases, most of the details and the abuse happens behind doors, with no evidence other than hearsay.

An employee of Swift Comfort was called to stand as a witness. She had delivere marijuana to Jaime Kinseth on multiple occasion to two different addresses.

The witness identified Ms.Gilligan in court and said that each time she delivered marijuana to Mr. Kinseth she saw Ms.Gilligan there as well. She would usually spend about 20 mins each time she delivered marijuana to his house and would engage in small conversations with Mr.Kinseth.

She recalls having a conversation with Mr.Kinseth at his K Street apartment about moving and then another conversation with him at the new apartment on F Street about unpacking boxes.

Next, the prosecution called one of Ms. Gilligan’s friends from grad school to the stand. She describes Ms. Gilligan as being “goofy, loud, caring” and “kind.”

The prosecution asked about Ms. Gilligan’s stress levels, and the witness said Ms. Gilligan would get stressed when she would get overwhelmed by assignments. The defense asked about Ms. Gilligan’s anxiety levels and asked her to rank it on a scale of one to ten. The witness said it was a five.

The prosecution asked the witness about Ms. Gilligan’s and Mr. Kinseth’s relationship and whether or not the defendant had ever said anything negative about him. The witness said no and that the only comment she has ever made was when she talked about how he was not working because of his psychological issues.

The prosecution asked the witness multiple times if she was aware of the relationship status of Ms.Gilligan and Mr. Kinseth each time she would visit Davis. She said numerous times that she was never entirely sure what their relationship status was.

The next witness was one of Ms. Gilligan’s co-workers in the Woodland school district. The witness would work with Ms. Gilligan about two times a week and described her as being “really friendly” and “always very kind.”

When the prosecution asked her about Ms. Gilligan’s relationship with Mr. Kinseth, she said that she had known of him as the ex-boyfriend. She recalled one occasion where Ms.Gilligan said she did not want to have contact with him because he kept texting her from different numbers and she would have to block them.

The weekend before the shooting Ms. Gilligan and the witness were at a bar in downtown Sacramento when Ms. Gilligan told her she had recently moved to a new apartment and did not want Mr. Kinseth to know where she had moved to.


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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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