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State v. Gillespie

960 A.2d 969 (2008)

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State v. Gillespie

Rhode Island Supreme Court

960 A.2d 969 (2008)

Facts

Betty Sue Gillespie’s decomposing body was found wrapped in bedding in the attic crawl space of an unoccupied apartment behind a padlocked closet door. When the police questioned Betty Sue’s husband, Clyde Gillespie (defendant), he initially claimed that Betty Sue had left him and that he had not seen her for months. When the police informed Gillespie that Betty Sue’s body had been found, however, he admitted to having placed her body in the attic. Gillespie claimed that he had found Betty Sue dead from an overdose and that he had hidden her body for fear of being accused of killing her. An autopsy revealed that Betty Sue had died from manual strangulation. Gillespie was charged with first-degree murder and alternatively with the lesser included charge of second-degree murder, as well as for failing to report a death with the intention of concealing a crime. At trial, the judge instructed the jury on both degrees of murder and stated that second-degree murder did not require a showing of premeditation. Gillespie was convicted of second-degree murder and of failing to report Betty Sue’s death. Gillespie appealed, alleging among other claims that the trial judge had erred in instructing the jury that premeditation was not an element of second-degree murder.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Williams, C.J.)

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