Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Wayne Gacy Jr.

The Defense

On February 24th, the defense began its proceedings and to the surprise of many in the courtroom, the first witness they had called was Jeffrey Ringall. It was expected that Ringall would testify in behalf of the prosecution. However, Ringall had previously mentioned his encounter with Gacy in a book and the prosecution believed that would damage their case if they took him on as a witness. Therefore, the prosecution did not call him as a witness because they believed his testimony would better help their case during cross-examination. Gacy's other defense lawyer, Amirante, asked Ringall if he thought Gacy was able to control himself. Ringall didn't believe so, considering the savagery of Gacy's attack. Testimony of Ringall did not last very long because he broke down while telling the court the details of his rape. Ringall was so stressed that he began to vomit and cry hysterically. He was eventually removed from the courtroom as Gacy sat by exhibiting no signs of emotion.

In an effort to prove Gacy's insanity, Amirante and Motta called to the stand the friends and family of the accused killer. Gacy's mother told of how her husband abused Gacy on several occasions, at one time whipping him with a leather strap. Gacy's sister told a similar story of how she repeatedly witnessed he brother being verbally abused by their father. Others who testified for the defense told of how Gacy was a good and generous man, who helped those in need and always had a smile on his face. Lillie Grexa took the stand and told of how wonderful a neighbor he was. However, Mrs. Grexa did say something that would prove damaging to Gacy's case. She refused to say that he was crazy, instead she said she believed Gacy to be a "very brilliant man." That statement would conflict with the defense's story that he was unable to control his actions and was insane.

The defense then called Thomas Eliseo, a psychologist who interviewed Gacy before the trial. He found Gacy to be extremely intelligent, yet believed that he suffered from borderline schizophrenia. Other medical experts that testified on behalf of the defense gave similar testimony stating that Gacy was schizophrenic, suffered from multiple personality disorder or had antisocial behaviour. They further stated that Gacy's mental disorder impaired his ability to understand the magnitude of his criminal acts. In conclusion, they all found him to have been insane during the times he committed murder. After the testimony of the medical experts, the defense rested its case.

Both sides emotionally argued their cases to the jury that sat before them. Each side recalled previous witnesses and experts who had testified. The prosecution reminded the jury of the heinous crimes committed by Gacy, talked of his manipulative behavior, his rape and torture of the victims and how his crimes were premeditated and planned.

Gacy in jail
Gacy in jail

The defense insisted that Gacy was insane and out of control at the time of the killings and pointed to the testimony given by experts during the trial. After the closing arguments and the testimony of over a hundred witnesses over a period of five weeks, the jury was left to make their decision.

It took only two hours of deliberation before the jury came back with its verdict. The courtroom was filled with silence and everyone within stood at attention when the jury marched in with its verdict. The silence was broken when the court clerk read, "We, the jury, find the defendant, John Wayne Gacy, guilty..."

 

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