Hattiesburg man found guilty on 2 counts of capital murder

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, November 3, 2007

Roger Lee Gillett has been convicted of two counts of capital murder in the killing of a Hattiesburg couple and transporting their bodies to Kansas in a freezer.

A Forrest County jury convicted Gillett on Friday in the deaths of his cousin Vernon Hulett and Hulett’s girlfriend Linda Heintzelman in 2004. The jury reconvened Saturday to consider Gillett’s sentence — either the death penalty or life in prison.

Lisa Jo Chamberlin, Gillett’s girlfriend at the time, was convicted of capital murder in August 2006. She is now one of three women on death row.

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Gillett and Chamberlin were arrested March 29, 2004, after lawmen raided an abandoned farm house near Russell, Kan., and found the dismembered bodies of Hulett and Heintzelman in a freezer. The farm was owned by Gillett’s grandfather

The freezer was in the courtroom during Gillett’s trial.

Prosecutors said Gillett and Chamberlin were living with Hulett and Heintzelman in Hattiesburg at the time of the slayings.

Chamberlin, in a taped confession played at her trial, said the victims were killed because they wouldn’t open a safe in Hulett’s home, according to the court record.

In Gillett’s trial in Hattiesburg, defense attorneys did not call any witnesses after the prosecution rested its case Friday. Gillett told Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich that he did not want to testify.

“They came so close to the perfect murder,” Assistant District Attorney Ben Saucier said in his closing argument. “It was absolutely incredible that he got caught when he did.”