Appeal denied for 2014 deadly crash in Greene County

By Ryne Turke on October 4, 2016 at 6:47am

The Illinois Appellate Court has upheld the conviction of a Greene County man for the offense of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, which resulted in a deadly car crash in 2014.

Thirty-eight-year-old Gary Hillis Jr. of Carrollton was found guilty following a three day jury trial in July 2015, and is currently serving a five-year sentence at the Illinois Department of Corrections.

According to Greene County State’s Attorney Caleb Briscoe, the Illinois Appellate Court dismissed an appeal by Hillis on Thursday. Hillis argued prosecutors still had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the one driving during the May 2014 accident that killed his fiancee, 32-year-old Brandy Gilbert.

When police arrived at the crash scene on Illinois Route 108, they discovered Hillis and Gilbert outside Hillis’ Ford F-150 pickup truck. The vehicle allegedly went down an embankment before hitting a utility pole. There were no witnesses of the incident.

Gilbert passed away from injuries sustained in the accident. Hillis was treated and released overnight, but was found to have a blood-alcohol level beyond the legal limit.

The Jacksonville Journal Courier obtained a 40-page opinion delivered by Justice Thomas Appleton. The opinion says, “To be sure, the defendant testified that Gilbert, rather than he, was the driver, but the jury did not have to believe him. A rational jury could have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that (the) defendant was the driver. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the trail court’s judgment.”

In a press release, Briscoe says, ”I feel the Appellate Court made the right decision in upholding the jury’s ruling in this case. Hopefully, this result will help to provide some closure to the awful events of that day.”