The long-awaited trial of Robert Gill is experiencing yet another delay following Friday’s pre-trial hearing.
While the trial was originally scheduled to start on August 7th, an official date for Gill’s jury trial is still pending, as the court awaits a report regarding possible sleep deprivation potentially suffered by the defendant.
Once the results of the report come back, the court will reconvene to determine an official trial date. However, it is unclear how long it may take to get the report.
Gill, now 63 years old, faces three counts of first degree murder for allegedly shooting his former son-in-law Andrew Maul to death in the fall of 2015 in the parking lot of the Jacksonville Police Department. Along with the murder charges, Gill also faces three arson-related counts for allegedly burning down the home of Maul’s mother, Debbie Bartz, the same night he allegedly shot and killed Maul.
Both sides met for around a half hour during Friday’s hearing. Defense Attorney Scott Hanken filed a motion to reconsider trying the defendant on all six counts simultaneously, and instead separate the charges into two different trials. Hanken’s motion centered on his belief that it would be prejudicial to try Gill on both the murder and arson charges at the same time, saying that it would have a significant impact on the way Gill is defended.
Another subject of contention for Hanken involved one of the witnesses the Prosecution intends to bring forth. The witness in question was one of the EMTs that responded to the scene in which Gill crashed his pick-up truck shortly after allegedly burning down Bartz’s home just outside of Chapin.
Hanken took issue with this specific witness for a number of reasons, calling the witness’ purported identification of Gill as “weak at best.” He also voiced concerns over the same witness’ testimony, in which the witness claims to have seen Gill filling up several tanks of fuel the night of the alleged incidents. Hanken also pointed out that the interview with said witness was not videotaped like all other interviews, and that the witness admitted to not recognizing Gill when responding to the scene of the accident.
Hanken described said witness as the lynchpin to the Prosecution’s case because it presents Gill’s alleged actions as pre-meditated. Thus, Defense Attorney Hanken believes such testimony would cause prejudice regarding the case and therefore impact the jury’s decision on the charges of arson.
Representing the State, special prosecutor Edwin Parkinson responded by saying “this is a case about geography and time.” Parkinson disagreed with the Defense on the motion to separate the charges of murder and arson, saying that all the details of the case go together. Parkinson also said that the State hopes to prove that the incident was “one rampaging, continuous, murderous act” committed by the defendant, whose motive was to wipe out the Maul family.
After hearing both sides, Judge April Troemper denied the defense’s motion to separate the counts into different trials, and said it will be up to the jury to determine the credibility of each witness.