Murderer Billy Gilley won't be allowed to testify before a jury

Billy Frank Gilley Jr. will not have the chance to tell his story before a jury during his resentencing for the murders of his parents and young sister in 1984.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ray White decided last week that a jury is not required to hear arguments that could decide whether Gilley was unfairly handed three consecutive life sentences for the murders, said Gilley's defense attorney Paul Beneke.

"We are disappointed but not surprised by the decision," Beneke said. "We wanted a jury to hear the abuse (Gilley) endured and other evidence that was not presented at his original trial."

Beneke based his motion on a 2007 Oregon Supreme Court case, which is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court later this year, in which a lower court ruled that a jury, and not a judge alone, should determine whether a defendant is eligible for consecutive sentencing.

Gilley was awarded a resentencing earlier this year after it was decided his original lawyer did not mount an adequate defense 24 years ago. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Beneke said a jury could have barred White from imposing consecutive sentences during the resentencing. Beneke hopes Gilley will receive a lighter sentence this time around by having the life sentences run concurrently. If Gilley had received the minimum sentence in 1984, he could have qualified for parole after 20 years, the Mail Tribune reported at the time.

Now it is solely up to the judge to decide Gilley's fate. White will still hear arguments from Beneke and Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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