A jury on Friday found Linda Gillman guilty of trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband in 2016. Earlier Friday, prosecutors filed new charges alleging Gillman last month began plans to have two other people killed.
The verdict on Friday afternoon was a split decision. Charged with two counts of first-degree felony criminal solicitation, Gillman, 70, was found guilty of conspiring to kill her ex-husband, but was acquitted of trying to have the ex-husband’s wife killed.
She faces a potential prison term of up to life when she is sentenced April 23 by 3rd District Judge Paul Parker.
Before handing the case off to the jury for deliberation Friday afternoon, Salt Lake County deputy prosecutor Marc Mathis let Gillman’s words speak for themselves, rather than rehash arguments.
Recordings of Gillman discussing “eliminating a witness,” “taking her out” and having “two homicides on our hands” rang throughout the courtroom Friday.
Mathis started his closing arguments — concluding a four-day trial against Gillman — by playing recording after recording of Gillman plotting the killings of her ex-husband and his new wife.
Prosecutors allege Gillman hired Christian Olsen, who was working on her condominium, to help her find a hit man to take out her former husband and his new wife.
Gillman was a beneficiary on three life insurance policies taken out on her ex-husband, Duane Gillman. Due to her husband’s health and age, the premiums kept rising, and by September 2016 had reached $9,900. The combined payout was $3.3 milllion.
“Duane’s not dying,” Mathis said, adding: “She’s paying out a lot of money.”
At one point while discussing the planned killings, Linda Gillman was caught on tape pondering her chances of pulling off the scheme.
“I don’t know how easy it is to get away with this stuff,” she said. “I just don’t know.”
Apparently, it’s fairly hard to get away with. After about 3½ hours of deliberation, Gillman stood in a white shirt, light purple blazer and dark purple pants as the jury convicted her of soliciting the killing of her former husband.
Afterward, her attorneys had the jury polled, and all eight jurors confirmed the unanimous verdict for the first count and the lack of unanimity on the second count, of which Gillman was acquitted.
The prosecution alleged at trial that Linda Gillman wanted Duane Gillman dead so she could collect the insurance money. But defense attorney Colleen Coebergh said during closing arguments that Linda Gillman owns a nice house and condo. Her net worth is about $1.5 million, she said. Linda Gillman didn’t need the insurance payout.
Coebergh told the jury it was Olsen who wanted the money. It was Olsen who had spent months bilking Linda Gillman out of money and staying in her condo. She called him a “master manipulator” and a “flim-flam artist.”
“He’s going for the Benjamins,” Coebergh told the jury.
Olsen and Duane Gillman declined to comment for this story.
Coebergh worked to impeach Olsen’s character, saying he stole stuff from Linda Gillman. And why would he befriend a 70-year-old woman if not to take her money? she asked.
But Mathis countered by saying Olsen’s character wasn’t the issue, and stains on that character shouldn’t be surprising.
“When you are in the market for a hit man, where do you go?” he asked. “Do you go to your bank?”
Either way, Mathis said, it didn’t matter. Linda Gillman is on tape planning two murders. Her conversations were played to the jury about how the two would-be victims should be killed to avoid investigation by the insurance companies to help her chances of getting the payout, Mathis argued. That’s what matters, he said.
Coebergh said those statements were made while Gillman was fearing for her own life. Olsen had told her the hit man he claimed to have hired, who was fictional, was part of a white supremacist gang. He said the gang beat him up and had been on Linda Gillman’s property. Linda Gillman, Coebergh said, was only saying she was concerned for her own life over those of her former husband and his wife.
But, in trying to show how unafraid Linda Gillman was, Mathis directed the jury to one of her more colorful recorded statements: “I’m not even afraid of God.”
The new case against Gillman involves remarkably similar allegations to the first.
According to a probable cause statement, Gillman paid $5,000 to bail a fellow inmate out of jail, and in return wanted help setting up the murders of Olsen and of an attorney representing a construction company suing her in civil court.
Police began investigating the most recent planned hits on Feb. 13, after an attorney for Gillman was caught leaving a meeting with Gillman at the jail with an envelope, an act circumventing the institution’s mail policy, according to the probable cause statement.
In the envelope was a check for $155,000 made out to a relative of an inmate Gillman was serving time with, along with a letter. Gillman instructed the inmate to approach Olsen with a “confess” letter and get him to sign it. If he refused, she instructed the inmate to tell a hit man to “take Christian out.”
The inmate said Gillman also instructed her to tell the hit man to kill the lawyer for I-D Electric, a company that did work on her condo and was suing Gillman over an alleged unpaid debt, according to the probable cause statement.
The attorney, Brady Gibbs, said he is aware that Gillman allegedly attempted to have a hit man kill him.
“My family, my law partners and I find the allegations extremely serious and deeply disturbing,” Gibbs said in an email, “especially considering Ms. Gillman's recent conviction on a similar charge.”
Gibbs added that he applauds law enforcers, prosecutors and the corrections department in their handling of Gillman.
Gillman allegedly owes the company $1,864.16.