Las Vegas Sun

August 28, 2014

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Man convicted of sex with girl, 5, to get new trial

CARSON CITY — A Las Vegas man sentenced to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole after he was convicted of lewdness and having sex with a minor is getting a new trial.

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Jack F. Gilliam did not get a fair trial because of a series of errors committed at his trial.

In a unanimous decision, the court said that “while we acknowledge that a defendant is not entitled to a perfect trial ... this trial was so imperfect as to render it unfair.”

Gilliam was convicted of 12 counts of lewdness with a minor under 14 years of age and six counts of sex with a minor.

The girl said that beginning in 2006, when she was 5, Gilliam sexually abused her three times a week during four summer seasons when she was out of school and visited him, according to court records.

She said she begged him to stop, but he told her to keep quiet, according to court records.

The Supreme Court said there were a number of errors made at trial. Individually, they would not merit a new trial. But an accumulation of errors deprived Gilliam of a fair trial, the high court ruled.

In addition, the court said, the question of guilt was close. The only evidence against Gilliam was the testimony of the girl. There was no physical evidence.

And the girl’s brother, who had slept beside her during much of the alleged abuse, did not wake or see any of the sexual misconduct, even when the girl said she screamed or struck Gilliam, according to court records.

The court said “the admission of cumulative hearsay evidence and prosecutorial misconduct regarding facts not in evidence bolstered the victim’s testimony, while errors concerning the admission of prior bad act testimony and prosecutorial misconduct improperly assailed Gilliam’s character.”

The court said the prosecutor “inappropriately goaded Gilliam into calling witnesses liars.” The prosecutor also misstated evidence from the testimony of the brother of the victim, the court said.

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