Russell sentenced to death

Published 12:40 pm Thursday, December 16, 2010

COLUMBIANA — Shelby County Circuit Judge Michael Joiner sentenced Ryan Russell, 37, to death Dec. 16 for the capital murder of his 11-year-old cousin, following the earlier recommendation of a jury.

A jury convicted Russell of capital murder Nov. 19 for killing Katherine Helen Gillespie in June 2008. The jury recommended the deathpenalty to Joiner Nov. 22.


Gillespie’s body was found June 16, 2008 stuffed headfirst into a trashcan stored in the backseat of Russell’s SUV in the garage of his rental house in Inverness.

An autopsy showed she died of a .40-caliber contact gunshot wound to the head.

After the discovery of her body, Russell was found unresponsive laying in the fetal position on the floor of his shower surrounded by pills.

During the course of the six-day trial, the state presented a case to show Russell intentionally shot Gillespie and then destroyed or hid evidence in an attempt to get away with the crime.

Russell was sent to the Alabama Department of Corrections following Joiner’s sentence. This is the first death penalty sentence handed down in Shelby County in a decade.