Judge denies Roberta Gillin's request

Relates to:
Date: 2002-01-19
Source: triblive.com

By Gretchen M. Kline
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002

UNIONTOWN - A Fayette County judge this week denied a motion from a former Bullskin Township woman asking the state Superior Court to determine if the local court should uphold a previous plea agreement.

Roberta F. Gillin, through her attorney, Paul Gettleman of Portersville, sought to file a direct appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court seeking to force the commonwealth to abide by the terms of a plea agreement that was offered to her shortly after she and her husband, James F. Gillin, were arrested and charged with murder for the death of their adopted daughter, Helen Louise Gillin.

Roberta Gillin, in a motion filed last week, indicated that if the Superior Court were to grant her motion and order the lower court to comply with terms of the plea agreement, she would waive her rights to a jury trial and enter the agreed upon plea.

As part of the plea bargain offered in November 1999 to Roberta Gillin, 51, she would plea guilty to the charges of abuse of a corpse and criminal conspiracy. In addition, Gillin testified against her husband at his preliminary hearing and was to be called to testify during James Gillin's criminal trial.

James Gillin was found guilty of first-degree murder last January and was sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 5 to 14 years.

Common Pleas Judge Conrad Capuzzi, in the order filed Thursday in the Clerk of Courts office, stated that Roberta Gillin has never raised the issue before the Fayette County bench and in a motion to reinstate the plea agreement offered to Roberta Gillin, her attorney did not raise the issue of the court being bound by the agreement between the commonwealth and Gillin.

Following her husband's trial, Roberta Gillin attempted to enter the plea before Capuzzi, who presided over James Gillin's trial. However, Capuzzi would not accept the plea based on testimony from her husband's trial that allegedly implicated Roberta Gillin.

Roberta Gillin then decided to enter a general plea of guilt to the charge of third-degree murder but at sentencing proceedings on March 27, 2001, she decided to withdraw her plea and face trial.

Roberta Gillin, now of Masontown, is awaiting trial. She is free on $25,000 bond.

She and her husband, James, were arrested in August 1999 and each charged with criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse and criminal conspiracy to commit homicide for the death of Helen Louise Gillin at the couple's former residence in Bear Rocks, Bullskin Township. Police contended that James Gillin stomped Helen Louise Gillin to death then burned her body in an outside pit. Police allege that Roberta Gillin had attempted to feed her daughter a mixture of heart medication and laundry detergent but when the concoction only made her sick, James Gillin began jumping upon his daughter.

Police allege that Roberta Gillin was upset about a sexual relationship between her husband and daughter and wanted her husband to do something about their daughter.

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