‘I know what you did’: Davis killer gets earful from victim’s family, prosecutors | TheUnion.com

‘I know what you did’: Davis killer gets earful from victim’s family, prosecutors

Lauren Keene
Special to The Union

WOODLAND — Spared a murder trial and life sentence in prison, Hayley Katherine Gilligan faced her day of reckoning Friday as relatives of Jamie Kinseth, the longtime boyfriend she shot and killed last year in their Davis apartment, finally got to speak their minds.

“You are a cold-blooded murderer,” Jesse Kinseth, the victim’s brother, told Gilligan during her sentencing hearing in Yolo Superior Court. “I hope each night when you lie down to sleep, that your dreams are haunted by images of Jamie, and how you chose to destroy him.”

And it didn’t stop there. Gilligan also heard an earful from the two prosecutors who were set to try her case before she cut a plea deal resulting in a 13-year state prison term.

“I’ve looked at all the evidence in this case, and two things are abundantly clear — she’s a liar and she’s a killer,” Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo said of Gilligan, who claimed Kinseth was an abusive ex-boyfriend who burst in to her F Street apartment and threatened her, forcing her to shoot him in self-defense.

Further investigation, however, showed Kinseth was in fact living with Gilligan, who prosecutors say hid the relationship from her disapproving family and plotted the slaying to eliminate Kinseth from her life once and for all. Friends said Gilligan told them Kinseth had been stalking, threatening and stealing from her in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 20, 2018, homicide.


In his victim-impact statement, Jesse Kinseth noted the bullet wound Gilligan fired point-blank into Jamie Kinseth’s forehead as he slept on the couple’s living room couch, and the damning evidence that debunked her self-defense claims.

Police arrived on scene to discover a drag mark between the bloodied sofa and Kinseth’s body lying in the apartment entryway, along with Kinseth’s clothing, wallet and other belongings stashed throughout the residence.

“What a wretched, despicable, spineless human being you are,” Jesse Kinseth said, his voice elevating to a shout. “Look at me, you coward! I see you! I know what you did!”

Kinseth’s father, Bruce Kinseth, said his family agreed to the lenient plea deal “because Jamie did truly love you, and we believe he would not have wanted you to spend the rest of your life in prison, even though you deserve to be there. … At some point you will have a life with your family. We can’t say the same thing.”

The case had been just days away from trial when Gilligan accepted the resolution, pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon — a semiautomatic pistol she’d purchased just three days before the shooting.

Relatives and friends of both Gilligan and Kinseth filled Judge Paul Richardson’s courtroom for the hour-long hearing, during which Gilligan’s mother Angie Pereira also delivered a statement extolling her daughter’s “loyalty and dedication,” attention to others’ needs and work as an occupational therapist specializing in special-needs children.

“For some reason, this is her path right now,” Pereira said. “I am reminded of the phrase ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ when I think of Hayley and how she is living through this experience. Wherever Hayley is, she will have a positive impact on her environment and the people around her.”


But the case’s two prosecutors weren’t quite so generous, seizing upon Gilligan’s repeated lies — to her family, friends, coworkers, police and others — about her relationship with Kinseth, as well as her lack of remorse, they said.

His voice shaky with emotion at times, Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mount outlined some of the evidence he and Palumbo planned to present to a jury — including the affectionate text messages Gilligan sent Kinseth even at the very moments she purchased the handgun and fabricated tales of Kinseth’s abuse.

“I’ve listened personally to every (jail) phone call and visit with your family members for the last nine months,” Mount told Gilligan. “Not once until two weeks ago did you even call Jamie by name. While you giggled with your sister, you never, ever, ever expressed remorse for having killed Jamie.”

Although Gilligan’s supporters submitted 22 letters on her behalf, “it’s important to realize that these letters are from people you lied to, because lying is what you did,” Mount said. “What’s important to note is who did not write letters for you,” the refusals coming from Gilligan’s best friend, graduate school classmates and a family whose son she aided in therapy for eight years who were “appalled by what you did.”

“You couldn’t tell the truth to save your life, and your lying cost Jamie his,” Mount said. “Unfortunately, the one you lied to the most was yourself.”

Gilligan, 30, did not make a statement during the hearing. Her public defender, Joseph Gocke, briefly spoke to ask that Richardson honor the agreed-upon sentence “so that all parties can move on from this terrible tragedy.”

Handing down the 13-year term, Richardson noted the letters he received from both Kinseth’s loved ones and Gilligan’s supporters and mused, “for the qualities that were underscored by both families, it’s hard to see why we would even be here.”

As for the sentence, “is it a fair resolution? I honestly don’t know,” Richardson continued. The fact that Kinseth would have agreed to it “says a lot about Jamie. It says a lot about his family. And for Ms. Gilligan and her family I hope you fully appreciate the magnitude and the generosity of that view, because it’s exceptional and unique.”

Lauren Keene is a reporter for the Davis Enterprise. Reach her at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

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