RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County jurors heard the voice of a recently convicted killer as he talked about violence against deputies and the judge in the hours after his conviction.
The jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict on Feb. 20 which guarantees Seaga Gillard will spend the rest of his life in prison. Now the jurors must decide if Gillard will receive the death penalty for the December 2016 murders of Dwayne Garvey and April Holland, who was pregnant.
Several witnesses testified during the trial about Seaga Gillard’s distinctive voice, as the St. Lucia native has a thick Caribbean accent. The jurors heard him speak for the first time on Thursday morning when prosecutors played an audio recording from one week earlier.
“Today, man, I was hot. Man, I was hot, man I was so hot from yesterday to this morning,” Gillard said on a phone call he made to a family member from jail.
The yesterday he mentioned was the day of the conviction. The lead investigator on the case, Raleigh Police homicide detective Eric Gibney, went to the jail the next morning to serve a search warrant to obtain a DNA swab from Gillard’s mouth.
Gillard was also supposed to go to court as attorneys met with Judge Paul Ridgeway to review the upcoming penalty phase in his trial.
“Mr. Gillard indicated he had no intentions of complying with my warrant and he would not listen to anything I had to say. I provided him with options, and one of those options was that the SWAT team and the jail would have to use force if necessary to restrain him because it was a legal order from the court to execute the search warrant,” detective Gibney said.
“He indicated that he was prepared to resist, and (said) ‘they got me on a triple murder,’ and I basically tried to peacefully resolve it and and just try to talk some sense, and it just wasn’t working,” he said.
“When I told him that force was an option, he said ‘do what you need to do.'”
Additional deputies and corrections officers responded to the section of the jail where Gillard was awaiting transfer. Sergeants Jennifer Strombotne and Tony Edwards said Gillard was combative.
“I heard the tail end. Mr. Gillard stated that if he comes into the courtroom, that the deputies would have to shoot him, and that he had nothing else to lose,” Edwards said.
The deputies said one officer pulled out his taser and charged the device to use on Gillard. They said the officer told Gillard that he did not want to get hurt or to hurt Gillard.
Gillard cooperated, but the call he made to a family member revealed a lot of anger.
“Done had like 15 sheriffs come with tasers and all kinds of s***. They tried and tase me and all type of s***, man,” he said on the call.
“This (expletive) told me he was going to tase me, boy, and I told that (expletive), (expletive), I’m going to knock you the (expletive) out, (expletive).’ He tase me and (expletive) and I told that (expletive), ‘(expletive), I’m going to break your (expletive) jaw,'” Gillard said.
“You know me. I’m a big (expletive) now, so, you feel me? Yeah. I told him, I told him, man, I get (expletive) up. I’m going to send the whole (unintelligible) that judge, man.”
Gillard’s attorneys presented witnesses in his defense Wednesday who said he can be productive and well-behaved if sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors used the behavior after the conviction as evidence in their case of why Gillard should receive the death penalty.
Prosecutors and the defense will make their closing arguments Friday. Jurors will decide if Gillard will be the first Wake County convict sentenced to death row since 2007, or the county’s tenth straight capital murderer to receive life imprisonment.