By Christopher Datu
SACRAMENTO, CA – Defendant Lionel Gillespie was denied bail here in Sacramento County Superior Court Monday for his alleged involvement in a brutal gang related drive-by.
The prosecution painted Gillespie as a “gang banger,” but his defense attorney said he was a young man with a child, trying to change his juvenile ways.
Gillespie and the victim were associated with rival gangs that were in a violent ongoing dispute, according to police and district attorney accusations.
On Sept. 5, 2020, authorities claim, the two had a brief interaction at Mercy Hospital. Minutes after the victim drove away and was sitting at a J Street intersection, a gray Saturn, with Gillespie allegedly inside, stopped beside his car and unloaded at least 13 rounds.
Private defense attorney John Renwick, representing Gillespie, argued Gillespie was a “young 23 year-old” recently laid off from his carpentry job at the “substantial North Concrete Construction Company.” He also mentioned Gillespie’s girlfriend was expecting a child the day of the shooting.
It was in the Mercy Hospital parking lot that Gillespie allegedly was “milling around” when the victim arrived. Gillespie grabbed the victim’s attention and made a gesture that Renwick found the relevant police report “interpreted as being a simulated gun action.”
Renwick admitted Gillespie was seen on hospital surveillance getting into the gray Saturn that followed the victim shortly after he left the hospital, but claimed this evidence was “strongly circumstantial.”
He insisted that neither the rest of the traffic camera surveillance nor eyewitness testimony could confirm Gillespie was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
Renwick’s interpretation of inconclusive evidence continued as he noted the shells at the crime scene were for Glock 40 and Glock 45 caliber pistols. The gun found in Gillespie’s car was a 9 millimeter pistol, and “no matching firearm was found during this search.”
Renwick maintained the “discovery was a little bit ambiguous” and that Gillespie was a “23-year-old man with very little significant criminal record.”
Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Macy focused on Gillespie’s criminal history that included a felony in 2014, a misdemeanor in 2015, a felony in 2015, and a first degree burglary felony and misdemeanor in 2016. Each of these charges ended in wardship with Gillespie because he was a minor at the time.
When detailing the interaction at Mercy Hospital, Macy referred to Gillespie’s gestures as “simulating the active shooting.”
Macy referenced the hospital surveillance and charged Gillespie was “taking pictures of the victim’s vehicle, including the license plate.” When the gray Saturn arrived, Gillespie was seen going to his girlfriend’s BMW to “crouch down and retrieve something from under the steering wheel.”
Social media then came to play a role in developing Macy’s case.
Gillespie posted a message on July 30 stating “any time you see any sucka bro get a pic of they car.” Other direct messages included a dialogue with another gang member looking for a 45 caliber Glock.
Search warrants were also issued for Gillespie’s girlfriend’s apartment, her BMW, and Gillespie’s Nissan Altima.
The DDA said that when police searched the BMW, a 9 millimeter Glock was found in a “compartment under the steering wheel” that was “consistent with the area he went to in the parking garage.”
In the apartment, there was an “assault rifle next to the washing machine” and “it had no markings, indicating it was a ghost gun,” the prosecution said, adding that ammunition was strewn around with an “empty .40 round magazine on the dresser” and “a bag of hundreds of rounds of ammo in the closet.”
Gillespie also owned a notebook full of rap lyrics, with some explicitly referencing the gory details of drive-by shootings.
Considering the nature of the bail hearing, Macy brought up Gillespie’s history of not appearing, mentioning he failed to appear on Oct. 2, 2020, and in August of 2016, with bench warrants being ordered both times.
Macy also argued that “least restrictive means then holding the defendant in custody does not ensure the safety of the victim or community at large,” requesting Gillespie be held with no bail.
Judge Patrick Marlette was convinced “his (defendant) motivations haven’t changed. He had a baby on the way at that time and he has a baby now” and that “I don’t see anything that would preclude Mr. Gillespie doing next week what he did here.”
Marlette ruled Gillespie to be held without bail and set the trial for August 10.
Christopher Datu is a 4th year Political Science major at UC Davis. He is originally from Corona, California.
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