Gillis Pleads Not Guilty to Murder He Reportedly Confessed To

After hours of prayer, she forgives him. That's what Alfreda Williams said Friday about accused serial killer Sean Gillis. On Thursday, a West Baton Rouge grand jury indicted Gillis for the death of Alfreda's sister, Joyce Williams. Then Friday, Sean Gillis appeared in court to answer to that charge.

District Attorney Ricky Ward says he's going to wait until East Baton Rouge Parish seeks the death penalty against Gillis before going forward with his second degree murder trial. The big question now is who will fight for Gillis in the West Baton Rouge court?

Making his first public appearance since his arrest last year, Gillis now sports a beard and appears to have put on weight. Standing before Judge Robin Free in the West Baton Rouge Parish courthouse, in a loud voice, Gillis said the words "not guilty" in response to his second degree murder indictment.

Reportedly, Gillis confessed to killing 36-year-old Joyce Williams in November of 1999. Two months later, hunters found her body on the Mississippi levee, about three miles down river from the Plaquemine ferry.

Ricky Ward say, "There's no doubt in my mind that he's guilty. He's basically confessed to it."

But public defender Tommy Thompson says that doesn't mean much. "We get confessions everyday. It depends on whether our clients really said them or not."

Judge Free appointed public defender Tommy Thompson to represent Gillis. Thompson also defended serial killer Derrick Todd Lee. But Gillis already has New Orleans attorney Kerry Cuccia representing him in his capital cases in East Baton Rouge and Lafayette Parishes.

"I'd welcome any help we could get, of course," says Thompson.

"We are ready and prepared to represent him, if that's what Mr. D'Aquilla would decide," says Cuccia.

The Mr. D'Aquilla Cuccia is speaking of is the head of the public defender's office. They must decide exactly who will represent Gillis in one week, because prosecutors are ready to move.

"Tony Clayton will be the lead prosecutor," says Ward. "If he were here, I'm sure he'd tell you he's ready to go to trial, you know, in a month."

Gillis will next appear in a West Baton Rouge Parish courtroom September 16th.  Gillis can only face life in prison if convicted in West Baton Rouge.  However, prosecutors in East Baton Rouge and Lafayette Parishes plan to seek the death penalty.  Reportedly, Gillis confessed to killing eight women.

Gillis' East Baton Rouge trial is set for October 11th before Judge Bonnie Jackson.  However, depending on defense funding issues, that date could change.

Reporter: Avery Davidson