RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Wake County man could receive the death penalty after a capital murder conviction Wednesday.
Jurors found 30-year-old Seaga Gillard guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the Dec. 2, 2016 shootings of April Lynn Holland and Dwayne Garvey. The couple had three children together, and Holland was about 12 weeks pregnant according to a report from the Office of the Medical Examiner.
The jury deliberated for slightly longer than two hours Tuesday and for nearly an hour on Wednesday morning before reaching its unanimous decision. Midway through their morning deliberations, the jurors requested and received approval to again watch video of the two shootings on a large screen in the courtroom.
Gillard shot Holland in a motel room less than 10 seconds after another man, identified by investigators as Brandon Hill, shot Garvey seven times in the hallway outside the room at the America’s Best Value Inn on Glenwood Avenue.
Defense attorneys said Gillard should not be held responsible for Garvey’s death, but prosecutors argued that Gillard and Hill were in the process of committing other crimes together, and were “acting in concert” when they each shot a victim.
“He brings a gun, and his accomplice brings a gun, because the plan is if things go south, leave no witnesses,” Wake County Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Pomeroy said.
“This defendant turned to a naked, unarmed, pregnant woman, and shot her twice. Why? She wasn’t attacking him. She was unarmed,” Pomeroy said.
“When he walks out of room 220, Dwayne Garvey is still running. (Gillard’s) wingman (Hill) is still coming down the hall. Does he just follow him? No. He stops. He makes a choice. (Gillard) could have just run out with (Harvey). He makes a choice. It’s deliberation. It’s premeditation. He turns around and he shot April twice.”
In addition to proving Gillard’s role in Garvey’s death, prosecutors also had to convince the jurors to convict Gillard of attempted rape or attempted robbery. Defense attorneys repeatedly pointed to the fact that neither Gillard nor Hill took anything from Holland and Garvey’s motel room, and no sexual activity took place.
Gillard contacted Holland through an online advertisement and hired her as a prostitute. They agreed on a $140 fee for 30 minutes, and investigators found seven $20 bills on a nightstand and an unused condom on the floor of the room.
Two women testified during the trial that Gillard contacted them online to offer money for sex, but when they met him at a motel, Hill also showed up and helped Gillard tie them up. The women said Gillard and Hill raped and robbed them. Investigators later found the victims’ identification cards and other belongings in a duffel bag in Hill’s possession.
Prosecutors said the same thing would have happened to April Holland had Dwayne Garvey not been nearby. Pomeroy said Garvey was not just Holland’s boyfriend, but also her partner and protector.
She said one of the earlier victims came close to dying, but both of the other women who testified survived because no one interrupted no one died in the other cases be
“No one was killed in the other cases, (though one of those victims) came close. That’s because nobody interrupted them. Nobody stopped them. The only difference in those cases and April’s is Dwayne,” Pomeroy said.
“Dwayne loved April, and whether you understand or I understand that relationship, that doesn’t matter, that’s not for us to judge. The bottom line is he loved her and wanted to protect her,” she told the jury.
“(This) was going right on plan until Dwayne interrupted. (Gillard) is still fully clothed. He’s got his jacket and he’s got his gun out. He’s halfway on his way to what they do.”
Judge Paul Ridgeway informed the jurors during jury instructions that attempted rape could still take place if a suspect performed an act that was calculated and designed to bring about first-degree rape, but which fell short of completion because the defendant was stopped or prevented from the apparent course of action.
The jury foreperson said the jurors unanimously found Gillard guilty of the attempted rape and attempted robbery of April Holland.
The penalty phase of the trial will begin Monday. Due to the convictions of two counts of first-degree murder, Gillard could receive the death penalty.
Judge Ridgeway informed jurors that they would likely be in court all of next week. He said the trial is well ahead of schedule, as prosecutors initially believed it could run through March 18.