|By SARA MITCHELL
Paul Douglas Gill, a former Fordyce police chief, was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder in the 2007 shooting death of his wife, Sandra Kaye Gill.
Gill was sentenced in Union County Circuit Court to 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction and will not be eligible for parole until 70 percent of his sentence is served. He is 54 years old.
Gill shook his head back and forth as Circuit Judge Carol Crafton Anthony read the verdict that was prepared by members of the jury, who deliberated for three hours.
Kaye Gill was found shot to death at their 219 Brandon Street home in Fordyce. Doug Gill went home and found his wife after receiving phone calls stating that his wife didn’t show up for a dentist appointment or for work.
Kaye Gill was a registered nurse and also program director of Senior Care at Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden.
After finding his wife, Doug Gill called 911 and said that he thought his wife had killed herself.
During the closing argument rebuttal, 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Robin Carroll asked the jury to first refer back to opening statements, which were made Monday by both the prosecution and defense attorneys.
“During opening statements you have ethical but also moral obligations,” Carroll said. “I take this very serious and everything I have said came through on the witness stand.”
Carroll said that opening statements made by Little Rock attorney Dale Adams had not been followed through.
“The defense attorney told you Monday that she (Kaye Gill) had a history of suicide in the family,” Carroll said, adding that no testimony was given at any time during the week regarding the matter. “It never happened,” he said.
Carroll also questioned the absence of any additional testimony throughout the week, which had been foreshadowed Monday in opening arguments made by the defense.
“You were also told the Gill family was deeply in debt,” Carroll said. “There is no evidence, and has been no bank statements or anything to show that.”
Carroll also referred to remarks made by the defense regarding “political pressure to prosecute Doug Gill,” and reminded the jury that Arkansas State Police Investigator Rick McKelvey waited four months to make an arrest.
Other accusations made in opening statements by the defense were questioned by Carroll, such as Kaye Gill “barely getting into graduate school.”
Dr. Kim Bloss, dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Southern Arkansas University, testified Tuesday that Kaye Gill had been “accepted unconditionally in the program.” Also, SAU Instructor Jennie Sanders testified that Gill had been a “model student” in her class.
After questioning a few more statements made on Monday by the defense, Carroll told the jury, “I don't know what they are talking about.”
During closing arguments for the defense, attorney Jim White portrayed Doug Gill as a victim.
“We have not heard one bad thing about Doug all week,” White said. “By being accused of this he has lost everything.”
White told the jury that Gill had lost many things, including his home, his job, half his family, and his reputation. “He has lived for the past year and a half in the Dallas County Jail.”
Saying that he thought the prosecution had not shown evidence against his client, White told the jury, “It's not their job to disprove Kaye committed suicide. It's their job to prove she was murdered and that Doug did it.”
White said that throughout the week “not one direct piece of evidence had been shown against Doug Gill,” but only circumstantial facts put together.
By the time the state police arrived at the crime scene, the sheets on the bed where Kaye Gill was found had been pulled back, White said. “And God knows what could have happened,” he added. “The blood pattern transfer could have been from the sheets being pulled back.”
Experts in the area of blood pattern transfer and crime scene analysis reconstruction provided testimony during the week for both sides.
On Thursday morning, forensic consultant Paul E. Kish provided testimony for the defense.
Kish said that when evaluating blood stains from a crime scene, measurement is important. He showed the jury two examples he used when teaching a class on blood pattern transfer. One picture of the blood transfer had a scale marker and the other did not.
Kish told the jury that by using a scale on a two-dimensional picture, an object can be viewed in a more objectionable way. “With a scale, something that had seemed large will, in fact, be small,” he said.
Pictures taken at the crime scene of the blood transfer had no measurements on them.
“One’s eye may want to say the gun made that,” Kish said, referring to testimony given Tuesday by Tom Bevel, a forensic consultant.
Bevel had testified that blood transfers located on Kaye Gill’s arm were consistent with the design of the hand grips on the weapon. Bevel also told jurors the best explanation of the unusual markings would be that someone had tried to manipulate the murder weapon.
Kish told jurors that he came early in order to personally examine the weapon, instead of just looking at it in a picture. “It’s important to look at objects to make sure they look the same as they do on a flat surface,” he said.
Holding up the weapon for jurors to see, Kish said, “Now I can see how large the grip is and I cannot tell that from the photos.”
White told the jury that crucial evidence had been thrown away. “We still don't know where that bottom sheet is. And the mattress and pillows are gone.”
White said that the gunshot residue found on clothing that reportedly belonged to Doug Gill meant nothing. “Gunshot residue doesn't tell you anything except the person was in a gunshot wound environment,” he said. White told the jury to expect paramedics to also have gunshot residue on their clothing when they are responding to a call involving the shooting of a gun.
White also questioned if the clothing even belonged to Gill. “No one has said those were Doug's clothes.”
White also commented on testimony given Thursday morning by Kaye Gill’s daughter, Brandy Gunn.
Gunn testified that it was not uncommon for her mother to obtain sample packages of medication from a physician for Doug Gill’s mother, who was a patient in a Camden nursing home. One of the medication samples had been the anti-depressant Prozac, Gunn said.
During closing arguments, White referred to the sample packages of Prozac and said, “grandma hadn't lived in that house for over a year.”
White said that “no one wants to admit that a family member could kill themself.”
White also disputed that Doug Gill had become desperate because his wife yelled at him. “If he was tired of all her nagging, he knew how to get a divorce,” White said. “He had done it three times before.”
Doug Gill also wasn't worried about money, White told the jury, saying that Gill had “inherited a good chunk of change” and spent it on his family.
Carroll told the jury that no Prozac was found in toxicology reports for Kaye Gill. Magazine articles or advertisements for anti-depressants that were supposedly found in Kaye Gill’s house had not been introduced as evidence. “They never produced them,” he said.
Carroll discussed the amount of money that was paid to expert witnesses for their work in the case. Kish told Carroll he had so far been paid $11,000 for his consulting work in the case.
“At least they had a conscience,” Carroll said. “You couldn't buy them to say suicide.”
Deputy Prosecutor Tennille Price told the jury to think back during the week when they were told to have open minds.
“This is why it is not suicide,” Price told the jury. “Kaye hated guns she was scared of them. She didn't know one end of a gun from the other.”
Kaye Gill also had strong religious beliefs, Price said, that would lead her away from suicide.
Gill was enjoying her family, her grandchildren, job, and her church, Price said. “She was looking forward to going back to school.” Price asked the jury, “Who studies for a test and plans to commit suicide the next day?”
Gill had been making plans to go on a cruise with her sister, Price said, and also made plans to study with a fellow student during spring break. Gill was excited about her daughter wanting to become pregnant.
“She left no suicide note,” Price said. “And the defense testimony even claims that action was out of character.”
The videos and photos speak for themselves, Price said. “She was in a fetal position and the bedcovers were pulled up to her waist.”
A gunshot wound that is three to six inches from the head is not typical in suicide, Price said, adding that expert testimony from Bevel indicated that someone staged the gun.
Also, the position of the gun under Gill’s arm was not consistent with her firing the shot, Price said, adding that neither was the position of her right arm. “The position of the gun holster was pointed away from her and out of her reach.”
Price said that in addition to facts supporting the absence of suicide, there were plenty of facts and evidence indicting murder.
“Doug Gill was the last one to see her alive and the first one to see her dead,” she said. “They argued the day before about a nursing home bill for his mom that had not been paid.
“Testimony shows he was the only one there that night and that morning, and the time of death was during the time he was there.”
The gun that was used belonged to Doug Gill and came from his night stand, Price said.
Two neighbors of the Gill family testified that they both heard shots after 3 a.m., Price said. “During that time, Doug was the only one home with Kaye Gill.”
Price said that testimony showed that Doug Gill “was later to work that day than he had ever been before” and people are up and about when he leaves for work yet no one heard a gunshot wound at that time.
“Kaye Gill was very demanding,” Price said. “Doug Gill had no life. He cooked for her, ran errands, cleaned the house, and bathed the dogs. When she came home and wanted to vent, he was there.
“She chewed on him until March 22, 2007, when he snapped and had his last chewing. And then it was over.”
Price asked the jurors not to leave their common sense at the door. “This leads to the only conclusion that he murdered his wife while she slept.”
Carroll told jurors that Doug Gill had “gunshot regret.” He said that Doug Gill probably regretted killing his wife. “I have no doubt he was emotional about it. He looks like your neighbor. But just because you don’t believe he was a cold-blooded killer doesn’t mean he didn’t kill her.”
Carroll told the jurors that “The law requires a conviction, but justice demands it.”
In an interview after the trial, Carroll said the case was difficult. “There are good people in both families.”
Carroll said he was pleased with the verdict and “Mrs. Gill’s children are satisfied with the verdict.”
Carroll said he thought the testimony from Bevel had been believable and that the crime scene had been manipulated.
Doug Gill was a former police chief at Fordyce in the early 1990s and also a former deputy sheriff. At the time of the crime, he was employed as a quality control inspector with Georgia Pacific in Fordyce.
The Gills, who had been married for 16 years, both taught Sunday School at the Baptist church they attended.
Because of the level of publicity, a change of venue was granted in May.