Trail & acquittal of Lisa Gilliam to be highlighted on TV tonight
Staff Report Commonwealth Journal
The television debut of the story of a Laurel County woman acquitted in October of charges claiming she murdered her attorney husband is scheduled for today.
The episode, titled “Lisa Gilliam,” will air at 9.m. today on Oxygen’s “Snapped” series.
The murder trial of Lisa Gilliam, who was accused of killing husband Larry Gilliam in his London law office on Jan. 7, 2011, also has local ties, as her defense team includes local attorneys Scott Foster and Robert Norfleet.
Foster was surprised when he received the initial call about the Oxygen Network program “Snapped.” Gilliam’s case was a possible story for the show, which features “true crime”-type stories of women who have committed, attempted, or been accused of murder, portrayed in documentary fashion along with interviews with key figures in the proceedings. Every episode shines a spotlight on a different case, which often have to do with women who try to kill their spouses.
“Frankly, I’d never heard of it until they called me,” said Foster in an earlier interview with the Commonwealth Journal. “Apparently, everybody and their ... brother has seen the show.”
Foster said the format of the show, as described to him by its producer, David Lane, “deals with women who had all they could take and snapped and killed” someone — but not necessarily women who are actually guilty of the offenses.
Gilliam was acquitted on October 19, 2012 at a pre-trial conference in Laurel County Circuit Court by Special Judge Robert McGinnis, who said that there wasn’t enough evidence for another trial (according to information from the Corbin Times-Tribune).
This was after a jury just couldn’t decide on whether Gilliam was guilty of murdering Larry Gilliam, her husband of 44 days, or if he’d committed suicide, and came out of deliberations as a true “hung jury” — in a way rarely seen in Kentucky courts.
“Our case took an extremely rare turn — literally, there were other lawyers who had never heard of this before and didn’t think it was possible,” said Foster.
“We tried it in September to a jury; after three days of hearing evidence, they retired to deliberate and came back ... and said they could not reach a verdict,” he continued. “They got what is called the ‘Allen Charge’ and were told to go back and deliberate again.”
The “Allen Charge” is a strong reminder from a judge to a jury of the importance of reaching a verdict given the time and resources put into the trial by those involved and that beliefs aren’t the same as careful examination of evidence. Yet despite this warning from the bench, the jury came back without a verdict a second time.
“At that point, the judge had to dismiss them,” said Foster. “When he did that, it created the rare circumstance where (we were) allowed to move for a direct verdict of acquittal.”
The defense attorneys did just that, within three days of the jury’s dismissal, and the judge eventually granted that motion.
The case captured the attention of the producers of “Snapped,” who quickly reached out to the Somerset defense team, still celebrating the big victory.
Crew members with “Snapped” made the trip to Somerset and London in November to gather information for the show. Foster and Norfleet, as well as paralegal Gena Southerland and attorney Ryan Morrow, who was a witness in the case, were interviewed.