Defense presents no case in Russell trial

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — Defense attorneys in the capital murder trial of Ryan Gerald Russell rested their case Nov. 18 without calling any witnesses.

Russell is being charged with the death of 11-year-old Katherine Helen Gillespie, whose body was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, stuffed in a trashcan in the back of an SUV in Russell’s garage in Inverness on June 16,2008.

State prosecuting attorneys are seeking the death penalty on this case.

One stipulation signed by the state and defense was presented by Circuit Court Judge Michael Joiner after the jury returned from lunch Nov. 18. The stipulation showed Russell was in the process of trying to adopt Gillespie at the time of her death. The adoption process was not final and was pending a home study, Joiner said.

Russell’s court-appointed attorney Mickey Johnson closed his case immediately following the reading of the stipulation. In his opening statement on Nov. 12, Johnson said the defense would not dispute much of the evidence presented by the state, but they would argue that Russell did not intentionally shoot Gillespie.

Closing arguments will begin Nov. 19 at 9 a.m.