“It’s what the victim would have wanted.”
By Lauren Zaren
Hayley Gilligan will not go to trial on murder charges. The surprising development took place on Thursday afternoon, when she pled no contest to reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter with a stipulated 13-year sentence.
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, Davis Police responded to the 900 block of F Street at around 7am after a report of a male subject shot by a firearm. Twenty-nine-year-old Hayley Gilligan was arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of 35-year-old Jamie Kinseth of Davis.
Mr. Kinseth died from a single gunshot to the head.
In a previous conversation with the Vanguard, Defense Attorney Mark Reichel told the Vanguard that Ms. Gilligan had texted her family at 6:53 am, as they had plans to go to Disneyland that day. At that time she indicated that she was jumping in the shower and was going to be ready to depart shortly.
At 7:02 am, however, she texted again that she had shot Jamie. Mr. Reichel indicated to the Vanguard that Mr. Kinseth, an ex-boyfriend, had been threatening her for weeks. He told the Vanguard, however, that she had not reported this to authorities.
When Kinseth had forced himself into her home and refused to leave, Ms. Gilligan threatened to call the police. The defendant went upstairs for the gun and her cell phone before having a “stand-off” for an
hour. Mr. Reichel claimed the defendant saw Mr. Kinseth stand up with something in his hand. She then shot him.
When the case returned to Department 1 in November, Ms. Gilligan requested to switch attorneys. Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke now represents her. Following the appointment of new counsel, she entered a not guilty plea to the counts against her.
However, the Enterprise acquired a police declaration of probable cause which showed her making conflicting statements to police officers regarding the shooting and attempts to move the body and conceal incriminating evidence.
Prosecutor Steve Mount of the Yolo County DA’s Office began Thursday, January 31’s preliminary hearing by playing a 911 recording of the call that Hayley Gilligan placed to dispatch in the moments after the gunshot, which she claimed was fired in self-defense.
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.
Gilligan described having a two-year relationship with him from 2014 to 2016, after which for the two following years they saw each other on and off. She explained that they had broken up in October 2016, 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.”
Mr. Mount noted that, contrary to her claims to friends and others that Kinseth 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.”
Janell Bestpitch, a Davis peace officer since May 2001 and a detective of nearly five years, showed many of Gilligan’s 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.
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.
Officer Tony Dias described in great detail a large amount of blood on the arm of the sofa near the front door. He also described the weapon as a Ruger 380 caliber handgun.
Based on his training and experience, Detective Josh Helton testified, “This close pattern, this thick, is less than 12 inches away, maybe even less than six.”
Catherine Raven, who completed Mr. Kinseth’s autopsy, estimated that the gun was fired at a range of 12 inches, with 18 inches at the very maximum range.
“The evidence that we put on since [the defendant’s original statement to investigators] 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.
A hearing was scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, May 30, in Department 13. While the afternoon court session generally begins at 1:30pm, both the defense and prosecution requested extra time.
Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke spent the time speaking with Hayley Gilligan outside of the courtroom. Prosecutor Steve Mount also used the time to discuss the plans for the hearing.
Around 2:15pm, Judge Paul K. Richardson took his seat and the hearing commenced. The defendant, in tears, reviewed and signed a felony change of plea form. At one point, she paused to ask the bailiff for a tissue.
Gilligan pled no contest to Counts 2 and 2a, a felony, voluntary manslaughter, and an enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. As a result of the plea deal, Count 1, the felony for murder, was dismissed. She will serve 13 years in state prison – three, the lowest sentencing limit for voluntary manslaughter, and ten, the upper limit for the use of a firearm.
Prosecutor Mount expressed that the deal is “what the victim would have wanted.”
Before these events, a jury trial had been scheduled for next Tuesday, but it has now been vacated. Gilligan will appear in court for a final time on Monday, July 15, at 10am in Department 13 for sentencing.