Accused Serial Killer Appears in Court

Sean Vincent Gillis
Sean Vincent Gillis

Prosecutors have more than 36 hours of videotaped confessions from accused serial killer Sean Vincent Gillis. But on Wednesday, the lead prosecutor in the case declared that she will use virtually none of those confessions at trial.  Meanwhile, Judge Bonnie Jackson has set the date to begin Gillis' first degree murder trial for the death of Donna Bennett Johnston.  It will be October 11th of this year.

The one year annivesary of Johnston's murder is coming up on the 27th of this month. Prosecutors say Sean Gillis strangled Johnston and left her body on Ben Hur Road.  Now members of her family know the date when her accused murderer will be tried.

"I have told the family this is something good to aim for and look at," says Prem Burns, Assistant District Attorney.  "Of course, nothing is written in stone, so there's always the possibility it could be continued, but probably not too terribly much of a continuance."

Prosecutor Prem Burns says before that trial date, she wants to have the FBI perform new DNA tests using a fresh sample from Gillis. Gillis' attorney, Kerry Cuccia objected in open court, but the judge overruled.

"They have samples already, and we feel there was no reason for them to take additional samples," says Cuccia.

"DNA's going to be very important, but it's certainly not in the Donna Bennett Johnston case, it's simply one piece of the pie."

Another piece of the pie that Burns says she will use are letters signed by Gillis in which he confesses to killing Johnston and seven other women. Following court, an FBI agent took a handwriting sample from Gillis to compare to those letters. The sons of Donna Bennett Johnston hope the letters, along with other evidence, will lead to a conviction.

Gillis next appears in court on May 19th.

Reporter:  Avery Davidson