Plea bargain reached in retrial of Gillespie

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.comJury selection in the murder retrial of Marion Preston Gillespie ended abruptly Tuesday.
District Attorney Bill Kenerly announced a deal had been reached in which Gillespie agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder.
Gillespie , 56, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday morning in Rowan County Superior Court.
Presiding Superior Court Judge W. Erwin Spainhour will hear from investigators and mental health professionals prior to sentencing Gillespie.
Under the N.C. Structured Sentencing guidelines, Gillespie could receive between 12 years and 20 years in prison.
He was originally sentenced in 2004 to life in prison for the stabbing death of 50-year-old Linda Faye Patterson Smith in 2003.
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 a deputy that he had had an argument with his girlfriend and she might be hurt.
Officers found Smith dead in a bathtub in the couple’s home at 640 Knox School Road.
In 2008, the N.C. Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Gillespie, ruling that the judge in the original trial should have allowed the jury to hear testimony related to Gillespie’s mental health.
Jury selection got under way Monday.
Jurors an prospective jurors were sent home around 2 p.m. Tuesday after the plea deal was announced.