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Man convicted of Forrest Co. murder has kidnapping conviction overturned

(WDAM)
Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - On Tuesday, the Mississippi Court of Appeals overturned the kidnapping conviction of a man sentenced to life in prison for the 2016 murder of 22-year-old Clayton Bexley.

William Gillum, 55, is serving a life sentence for capital murder.
William Gillum, 55, is serving a life sentence for capital murder.(Mississippi Department of Corrections)

A Forrest County jury convicted William Gillum in 2018 of capital murder with the underlying felony of kidnapping, kidnapping and forcible rape. Gillum was sentenced to life in prison without parole for capital murder, 30 years in prison for kidnapping and 30 years in prison for rape, with the sentences to run consecutively.

According to court documents, Gillum invited Bexley and his girlfriend to his home in the 1100 block of Carnes Road on July 14, 2016 to smoke methamphetamine.

Bexley’s girlfriend testified at trial that Gillum led Bexley outside under the pretense that he needed help repairing a box fan. She then heard a loud noise and saw Gillum walking inside with a gun.

According to her testimony, Gillum then attacked her and tied her up in his bedroom before raping her.

The next day, Gillum left the home and the woman escaped and called law enforcement.

Bexley’s body was found wrapped in a quilt beside a debris pile close to Gillum’s house. A .22 caliber rifle was found in Gillum’s shed and a .22 shell casing was recovered from the steps leading into the home.

Bexley’s cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound to the head and ruled a homicide.

Gillum was indicted and later convicted on all counts.

On appeal, Gillum argued that his separate convictions for capital murder and kidnapping were a violation of his Fifth Amendment right against double jeopardy, since the underlying felony of his capital murder charge was kidnapping.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has previously ruled “that a capital murder defendant cannot be convicted of both capital murder and the underlying felony; the reason being that the defendant cannot be twice prosecuted for the same actions.”

The appeals court ruled Gillum’s conviction of capital murder and kidnapping violated his right against double jeopardy. The court reversed his kidnapping conviction and vacated the 30-year sentence, while leaving intact his capital murder and rape convictions.

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