Man's second murder trial starts Monday
By Jessie Burchette
The second trial of a Rowan County man convicted in the 2003 murder of his girlfriend will start Monday in Rowan County Superior Court.
In January 2008, the N.C. Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Marion Preston Gillespie who was serving a life sentence for killing 50-year-old Linda Faye Patterson Smith.
The N.C. Supreme Court ordered the new trial because evidence related to Gillespie’s mental competency was not allowed in the trial.
During the 2004 trial, Superior Court Judge W. Erwin Spainhour ruled that Gillespie was mentally competent and also granted a motion by District Attorney Bill Kenerly to keep a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist from testifying.
The Supreme Court ruled that the court exceeded its authority by excluding the testimony.
Salisbury attorney James Davis, who represented Gillespie, filed notice of appeal.
Charlotte attorney Harold Bender will represent Gillespie in the retrial.
Jury selection is expected to take up to two days, with the trial expected to run two weeks.
According to testimony in the original trial, Gillespie stabbed Smith eight times and slashed her 23 times with a butcher knife.
Gillespie then went to the Rowan County Justice Center and told the first deputy he saw that he had had an argument with his girlfriend and she might be hurt.
Officer found Smith dead in a bathtub in the couple’s home at 640 Knox School Road.
The state did not seek the death penalty. After four days of testimony, the jury found Gillespie guilty of first-degree murder. Spainhour sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
During the 2004 trial, doctors testified out of the presence of the jury, that a drug Gillespie was taking for clinical depression was a factor in causing depression and violent behavior.