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Archive for Sunday, October 17, 2004

Death penalty sought against two Kansans

October 17, 2004

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— A prosecutor says he will seek the death penalty for two Kansans suspected in the murders of two Hattiesburg residents.

Roger Gillett, 30, and his girlfriend, Lisa Chamberlin, 31, both of Russell County, Kan., pleaded innocent Friday in Forrest County Circuit Court. They are charged with capital murder in the March deaths of Vernon Hulett, 34, and Linda Heintzelman, 37.

"Because of the nature of the crimes, I will be pushing for the death penalty at this point," said Dist. Atty. Jon Mark Weathers.

Hulett and Heintzelman were killed at their home in Hattiesburg around March 20, but their bodies were not found until March 29 inside a freezer on a farm in north-central Kansas near Luray.

Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich set a May 9 trial date and denied bond for Gillett and Chamberlin.

Chamberlin's attorney, Gay Polk-Payton, said she is interested in pursuing a deal for her client.

"If it shows she was a passive participant in these crimes, then I will work on a plea agreement for her," Polk-Payton said.

Weathers said there is always the possibility of a settlement, but "because of the nature of this crime we will be pushing to go to trial."

Hulett's mother, Caroline Hester, along with other family members, attended Friday's arraignment but declined to comment.

"I can't talk about this at this time," Hester said as she left the courtroom.

Gillett's attorney, Rex Jones, said it's too early to talk about the case.

"We will do everything we can to see that he gets the benefit of the legal defense available to him," Jones said.

Both Gillett and Chamberlin told the judge that consider hiring their own lawyers.

The delay in arraigning the couple came because Gillett fought extradition from Kansas. He was returned to Hattiesburg earlier this month after his appeal in Kansas failed.

Chamberlin has been in the Forrest County Jail since April.

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