Defense witness in Gilley murder trial

The jury is expected to begin deliberating today on the fate of Jason Gilley, who is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of charges for the murder of 23-year-old Dalene Carlson.

I attended court on Sept. 24, but didn’t write a story. Here is some of what was covered:

The defense called witness James Louis to the stand. Louis says he was driving on Highway 99 in Modesto, when he noticed a woman jump out of a car at the Tuolumne exit on Aug. 7 — this is the day Carlson went missing.

“On Aug. 7, approximately at 12:45 p.m. I witnessed a woman fleeing from a red truck on southbound 99.”

He described the woman as a shorter Latina with a  small build, wearing dark jeans and a striped back and white shirt. She appeared to be in her mid-20s and had shoulder length hair.

“She seemed in great distress,” Louis said.

Louis said he called 911, because it seemed to be the moral thing to do. He described the truck as a 1990s Silverado pick up truck with  an extended cab. The woman was still attached to the seat belt when she was trying to get out of the truck.

Louis eventually was summoned to the police station to look at a series of photos  and determine if any of them looked like the woman he had seen. One of those women pictured was Carlson.

Under cross examination, he was asked whether the woman was Carlson.

Louis responded: “I don’t think so.”

Louis said he began thinking about the woman recently, conflicted about the possibility she could have been Carlson. He wondered whether he could have done something else if that was Carlson.

But after revisiting his memories of that day and doing further research, Louis was more confident that the woman was not Carlson.

Again, he described the woman as a shorter Latina. She didn’t  look like Carlson’s photograph. This woman was darker than Carlson.  She was of smaller build. Her top was a more conservative striped shirt; Carlson was wearing a striped tank top. The woman was wearing darker jeans than Carlson. And she had shorter hair than Carlson.

“My concern was alleviated,” Louis said.


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