Jack Gillean was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison, 10 years probation and $35,000 in fines.
Gillean will remain free under his existing $17,500 bond pending an appeal. If the Arkansas Court of Appeals declines to hear the case, or if the higher court affirms Wednesday’s verdict, Gillean will have to begin his three-year sentence. His attorneys have 30 days from the Wednesday’s judgment to file an appeal.
Under Arkansas law, Gillean may be eligible for supervised release under the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections after serving 1/3 of his sentence — one year. "Good time," or time spent while on good behavior during incarceration may reduce this to 1/6 of his sentence before being eligible for ADCC release — meaning Gillean could be out on supervised release after six months incarceration.
Gillean was found guilty on all counts in his commercial burglary trial on Wednesday afternoon, and during the sentencing phase the prosecution introduced evidence in the form of two text message exchanges with key witness Cameron Stark in which Stark asks Gillean, or someone using Gillean’s phone, for marijuana. The messages seem to indicate that marijuana was provided by Gillean either personally or through "my guy."
Gillean’s twin sister testified on his behalf during the sentencing phase of the trial, describing him as an outstanding student in high school, Hendrix College and UALR law school, and a dedicated public servant working as a "liaison with the prison system" and for the state Attorney General’s and Governor’s office before being hired at UCA. She also said that he was an "outstanding father" and "a patient, compassionate, principled man."
Defense attorney Tim Dudley asked the jury to disregard the text messages, characterizing this evidence as the prosecution’s attempt to punish Gillean for an offense they didn’t charge him with and hadn’t proven.
"That ain’t right and that ain’t fair," Dudley said, also asking the jury to consider the consequences of his actions that have already been visited on Gillean: "Losing his job, his reputation, being publicly humiliated, having his sex life exposed; he’ll never work as a lawyer or a professional again."
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Braswell said that the text messages were entered in accordance with the rules of evidence, which allows evidence in the sentencing phase that wouldn’t be admissible during the guilt phase.
"He [Dudley] may not like the evidence that comes in, but we play by the rules," Braswell said to the jury.
"[Gillean] continues to blame other people," he also said, referring to Dudley’s claim during closing arguments and sentencing that Gillean "started running with the wrong crowd." The consequences of Gillean’s action, Braswell said, were solely Gillean’s fault.
Braswell told the jury that Gillean’s behavior was shocking, and had created a "path of destruction" into which UCA students and the university in general was dragged, and that an "it’s okay, just write a check" sentence would not be justice in the case, but rather "an exception," and asked the jury to "treat him like everybody else."
The defense asked the jury to consider the least severe of the possible punishments, which could have included an "alternative sentence" that could have included no jail time or a number of days in county jail. However, the Jury picked the shortest "regular" jail term of 3 years, the maximum probationary term and significant fines.
Gillean’s defense called no witnesses after the prosecution closed its case. In the prosecution’s case, the defense’s goal was to cast doubt on the credibility of state witnesses who said they could corroborate the claim that Stark, a former UCA student worker in Gillean’s office and friend of the former UCA chief of staff, was given university master keys so that he could take test copies from professors’ offices in 2011 and 2012.
Stark was arrested in 2012 in connection with the office burglaries, and was caught with the master keys in his pocket.
Deputy Prosecutor Joan Shipley said in her closing statement that Gillean’s request for a different master key on March 7, 2012, coincides with Stark’s statement that he needed the different key to get into an office and that Gillean provided one.
Some of the state’s witnesses got dates "flat wrong," Shipley acknowledged in her closing, but said that these inconsistencies couldn’t outweigh the weight of witness testimony that Gillean gave Stark the keys so that he could steal tests.
Defense Attorney Tim Dudley countered in his closing statement that the inconsistencies in dates among Stark and two other key witnesses’s testimony are consistent in that they all seem to indicate that the burglaries and key exchanges started in 2010, but the physical and documentary evidence proves that the burglaries started in 2011.
"Maybe they did get together on their stories, but they got their dates wrong," Dudley told the jury, and he also pointed out immunity given to witnesses Stark and Jared Santiago as reason to question their credibility.
"The government is so anxious to get a high-profile case with a high-profile defendant, that they’re willing to let the bad actors walk," he said. Both Stark and Santiago have admitted to using the keys to break into offices and steal tests.
Dudley also asked the jury to consider whether there had been a "theft" in taking pictures or making copies of tests when, generally, nothing was physically taken from the offices. Commercial burglary requires that there be a break-in with a purpose to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment. In this case, the prosecution is arguing that the purpose of stealing tests amounts to theft of property. If there was no theft of property, Dudley said, the prosecution "didn’t charge this case right."
A motion for directed verdict based on basically the same argument was denied by Judge Ed Clawson this morning.
Dudley also reminded the jury that in this case, Gillean could not be convicted based on evidence provided by Stark unless that evidence was corroborated by other evidence or testimony.
Braswell finished closing for the state, saying that the only person who had seriously tried to cast doubt on Stark’s credibility was Dudley, and that there is a "smoking gun" with the timing of Gillean’s request for a second key, which opens no doors in the building where he works and which he’d done without for ten years, and one of the office burglaries.
20th Judicial District Prosecutor Cody Hiland said after the trial that he wanted to address Dudley’s argument that his office was "anxious to get a high-profile case with a high-profile defendant." Hiland said that his office does not consider a potential defendant’s status within any political or business organization when prosecuting a crime.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)