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Attorney: Gillean case must move

Attorneys say community biased against former UCA Chief of Staff Jack Gillean, seek change of venue.

Posted: March 4, 2013 - 9:44pm

Attorneys for the University of Central Arkansas’ former Chief of Staff Jack Gillean filed a motion Thursday to move the trial to Van Buren County, according to documents filed at the Faulkner County Courthouse.

Prosecutor Cody Hiland said Monday he will be reviewing the filings.

“Any response will be timely filed with the court,” Hiland said.

Gillean is charged with three counts of commercial burglary, one count of a fraudulent insurance act and one count of issuing a false financial statement. All are felonies, except issuing a false financial statement, which is a misdemeanor.

Gillean was charged and turned himself in after former student Cameron Stark was arrested in June for breaking into UCA academic buildings by using Gillean’s keys.

Gillean resigned suddenly from his top administrative position in June. Stark is the key witness for the prosecution.

Gillean’s attorneys said the community would not give Gillean a fair trial because of too much media coverage and information in the affidavit, according to the motion. Several people submitted their own affidavits saying “the inhabitants of Faulkner County believe that Jack Gillean is guilty and he will have to prove his innocence at trial in this County.”

The affidavits are signed and notarized.

“A cursory review of the newspaper articles and internet-television media coverage establishes that the publicity has been intense and Mr. Gillean has been in the forefront of the news since October 2012,” according to the motion.

Gillean’s attorneys counted at least 67 print and online news articles, including 24 articles by the Log Cabin Democrat. The document also names the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and several TV stations.

The motion said, in part, that Hiland’s office tried systematically to “bias the public against” Gillean.

“{W}e are convinced that Jack cannot get a fair trial in Faulkner County for the reasons stated in the motion,” said Sam Perroni, one of Gillean’s attorneys, in email Monday.

Gillean’s attorneys also filed Thursday a brief, going over the need for more detailed information surrounding his charges. On Friday, attorneys filed a motion outlining information Gillean’s attorneys want. That included asking for “precise” dates and how exactly prosecutors think Gillean acted illegally, according to the motion.

Attorneys also asked in a motion filed Thursday that the commercial burglary charges against Gillean be tried separately from the false financial statement and fraudulent insurance act.

On Thursday, attorneys asked in a motion that the Prosecutor’s Office reveal whether they had helped any witness monetarily — by reducing taxes owed, debt or by other means.

The list of questions also asked about immunity. Hiland has said previously Stark has received some immunity.

Perroni said it’s possible that law enforcement or the prosecution gave Stark monetary compensation in some form.

“Under the law, it is necessary for the defense to ask for things to make a complete record if the prosecution fails to turn everything over,” Perroni said in email. “Under the circumstances, and with what we have seen in the press and in discovery, we believe the state has conferred monetary benefits to Stark for his testimony along with giving him preferential treatment in his criminal matters. If it turns out to be true, then it will be one more reason for a jury not to believe him.”

A pretrial hearing for Gillean has been reset for May 10.

(Staff writer Scarlet Sims can be reached by email at scarlet.sims@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1246. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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