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home : latest news : local November 20, 2014

2/18/2014 6:00:00 AM
First-degree murder suspects walking free, for now
Casey Fessenden
Casey Fessenden
Norman Corley
Norman Corley
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Exactly 1,408 days have passed since Christopher Gillespie was shot and killed, execution style, in the desert off of Old Trails Road.

The two men who stand accused of killing him are free today. They were released from the Mohave County jail late last year after the state failed to take them to trial, separately, in a timely manner.

One of them, Casey Fessenden, will learn today if his latest trial date of March 4 is a go in a hearing before Judge Steven Conn.

After a series of trials for both men were postponed for one reason or another, Deputy County Attorney Kimberly Aune and the defense attorneys - Brad Rideout for Fessenden and Stephen Glazer for Norman Corley - agreed the men should be released without bail and on the condition they stay away from Gillespie's relatives and two specific witnesses.

The constitutional right to a speedy trial doesn't mean one has to be held immediately, but certainly the government can't hold people indefinitely without resolving their cases.

Corley's latest trial date is March 18. Nearly four years earlier, he and Fesssenden allegedly executed Gillespie in a chilling incident.

Fessenden, now 40, was armed with an AR-15 rifle as he allegedly lay in wait for Gillespie on the night of April 12, 2010, according to Mohave County Sheriff's Office detectives who investigated the murder and ultimately arrested the men.

Detectives believe Corley lured Gillespie to the desert outside of Kingman under the pretense of looking for coins and bottles. Gillespie followed Corley as Corley walked in front of his vehicle's headlights when Fessenden opened fire, according to detectives.

Three .223-caliber rounds struck Gillespie. Corley, detectives allege, also shot Gillespie at least once with a .22-caliber handgun.

Fourteen months would pass before detectives caught a break. In June 2011, a tipster told detectives the rifle used in the killing was inside a home on Route 66 in Kingman.

The owner reportedly told deputies that Fessenden sold him the rifle on April 16, 2010, four days after Gillespie was killed and three days after Fessenden allegedly reported the AR-15 stolen.

Testing of the rifle, a bullet recovered during Gillespie's autopsy and a shell casing indicates the rifle was the same weapon used in the homicide.

Fessenden was arrested in August 2011 and Corley was captured two months later. They remained in the Mohave County jail for more than two years until they were quietly released about a month apart late last year. Court papers regarding Corley's release are dated Dec. 19.

They each face a charge of first-degree murder.

In an effort to deter abuse of the comment section, the Kingman Daily Miner has a new policy of blocking comments on certain stories, such as arrests before conviction and stories with sensitive subject matter.

KRMC (career choice)-46961
Related Stories:
• Murder charge dropped in 2010 slaying
• Murder charges dropped against pair
• Without witness, murder case may never be prosecuted
• Suspect in 2010 slaying in custody
• Local man's murderer still walks free
• Obituary:Christopher J. Gillespie

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