Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Brutal Murder of Genore Guillory

Justice at Last

DA Sam D'Aquilla
DA Sam D'Aquilla

Before D'Aquilla's election, Sheriff Talmadge Bunch extracted a promise from the aspiring district attorney that if he got elected, he would take a fresh look at the Guillory case.

Don McKey also lobbied D'Aquilla hard.  He wanted the case prosecuted.  D'Aquilla wanted it prosecuted, too.

"He was on board from the get-go," McKey said.

Unlike a lot of prosecutors, D'Aquilla wasn't afraid to take a chance.  As soon as he took office, he reopened the Guillory case.  Although he knew the case had problems, he wanted a jury to decide it. 

D'Aquilla charged all four with second-degree murder.  It was a simpler charge to prove and less costly to prosecute.  The charge didn't allow for the death penalty, but it did carry a mandatory life sentence.  And in Louisiana, life means life.

Then he offered a deal to John Baillio, who'd been in jail since his arrest in August 2001. 

If Baillio would testify against the other three, D'Aquilla would let him plead guilty as a juvenile and recommend a sentence of "juvenile life."  Baillio would get out of jail on his 21st birthday.

Without Baillio's testimony, D'Aquilla knew he had nothing.  He had to cut a deal with the devil.  "We tried to make the best case we could," he said.

East Feliciana Courthouse
East Feliciana Courthouse

In July 2004, an East Feliciana jury found Phillip Skipper guilty of second-degree murder. 

Johnny Hoyt went to trial in February 2005 and was also found guilty of second-degree murder.

Johnny Hoyt during the trial
Johnny Hoyt during the trial

Both were sentenced to life in prison.

Lisa Skipper Hoyt pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to the statutory maximum sentence40 years in prison.

In exchange for his testimony, John Baillio was prosecuted as a juvenile.  He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to "juvenile life." 

Additional murder charges are pending against Johnny and Lisa Hoyt in St. Helena Parish.

No charges were ever filed against Amy Skipper.  Both Don McKey and Sam D'Aquilla were convinced that she played no part in Genore Guillory's murder.

Nothing will ever bring Genore Guillory back, but as he reflects on the case, D'Aquilla said he's satisfied with the outcome, satisfied that he was able to help put the people who murdered such a wonderful person where they belongbehind bars.

Asked what he thinks of them, of Johnny and Lisa Hoyt and Phillip Skipper, Sam D'Aquilla shakes his head.  "Those are some evil people," he said.

 

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