Timothy Gill pleads not guilty due to lack of criminal responsibility in 2015 murder of his wife
PITTSFIELD — When Timothy Gill ended his wife's life in December 2015, he believed demons and spirits were ordering him to silence her because she was killing the souls of babies.
Gill, 40, appeared in Berkshire Superior Court Friday for a bench trial before Judge John Agostini on a lone count of murder in connection with the death of 37-year-old Halena Gill.
The matter before Agostini isn't whether Gill caused her death — he has admitted to that — but whether due to acute mental illness, he cannot be held criminally responsible for his actions on Dec. 9.
Gill did not take the stand during the approximately two-and-a-half-hour trial.
Gill's attorney, Nathaniel Green, said his client has suffered from acute psychosis for over a decade and had been hospitalized multiple times between 2005 and 2012 as a result.
In most of those instances, Gill was hearing voices and having other delusions and in one June 2010 incident he was found lying in the middle of Elm Street in a crucifixion pose, yelling and claiming he was a lion of God, according to forensic psychiatrist, Montgomery C. Brower, who testified for the prosecution at the trial.
Around Thanksgiving 2015, Gill stopped taking his medication and his mental state rapidly deteriorated. By Dec. 9 of that year, Green said Gill had a complete break from reality and believed the demons and spirits he was hearing were telling him it was the Biblical end of days.
Those same voices told Gill his wife killed the souls of babies and he had to silence her.
The investigation into Halena Gill's death began when officers responded to a report of a car crashing into a utility pole on Hancock Road about 5:45 a.m., Dec. 9, 2015.
Gill, the car's only occupant, was found unconscious and injured in the vehicle, nude from the waist down.
He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center and police made attempts to contact his wife to alert her to the situation.
Police weren't able to reach Halena on Dec. 9 and on the following day were able to enter the apartment and found her body, clutching a knife blade in her left hand and surrounded by evidence of a struggle.
An autopsy determined Halena Gill died from strangulation and she had several superficial stab wounds on her body as well as what appeared to be a bite mark on her side.
Timothy Gill had a bite mark on his hand, apparently made by Halena while putting his hand over her mouth and nose.
Pittsfield Police Detective Sgt. John Soules testified Friday that surveillance video from the area near the couple's apartment showed their car leaving about 2:12 a.m. the morning of Dec. 9.
The couple was seen together on video from a nearby convenience store about four minutes later and a receipt from that store found in the apartment confirmed a purchase at 2:16 a.m.
Halena Gill was found wearing the same clothes she had on in the video, Soules said.
The car is seen returning to the apartment about 2:21 a.m. and it remained there until it was driven away again about 5 a.m., approximately 45 minutes before the crash.
After leaving the apartment, Gill reportedly went to a nearby lake and walked into it in a type of baptism ritual, according to Brower and then deliberately drove his car into a pole on Hancock Street in a suicide attempt and was commanded by God to do so.
When interviewed by police at the hospital, Gill admitted to killing his wife.
A neighbor of the couple's told police Gill had exhibited strange behavior the night before Halena's death. Soules said Gill showed up at the neighbor's door with no shirt on and wide-eyed, with what appeared to be some type of white powder around his mouth asking for cigarettes.
The neighbor said he would roll a couple for him and would bring them to his apartment. When the neighbor brought the cigarettes by a few minutes later, Gill had no memory of asking for them.
In an unusual situation, Brower, testifying as a prosecution witness and forensic psychologist Dr. Paul Nestor, testifying for the defense, both reached the same conclusion that Gill's acute mental illness impaired his ability to be aware of the criminality of his actions and his ability to conform his behavior to within the confines of the law.
The doctors only disagreed on Gill's diagnosis. Nestor said Gill has schizoaffective disorder, which presents as the same types of hallucinations and delusions as schizophrenia, with an added component of an intense mood disorder.
Brower said his diagnosis would be one of schizophrenia, noting he didn't find the same level of mood disorder that Nestor had in his evaluation.
Both doctors agreed there was no evidence of Gill faking or exaggerating his symptoms in an effort to avoid responsibility for the killing.
Nestor testified Gill showed as acute a state of mental illness as he's ever seen.
First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello prosecuted the case as a charge of second degree murder, meaning, if Gill were found to be criminally responsible and guilty by Agostini, he would be sentenced to life in prison, but would eventually be eligible to be considered for parole.
If found not guilty due to lack of criminal responsibility, Gill would be sent to a secure mental health facility for a 40 to 60 day period of evaluation and treatment, after which, a determination about what further action to take would be made.
Agostini took the matter under advisement and a decision is expected next week.
Gill remains in custody and held without bail.
Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.
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