Seaga Gillard found guilty in Wake County double murder case

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A jury found Seaga Gillard guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in a Wake County double-murder case.

The jury deliberated for less than 24 hours before they decided on the verdict.

The jurors now move on to the death penalty phase of the trial.

This could become the first time in more than a decade that Wake County prosecutors are successful in getting a jury to agree to the death penalty.

Gillard was charged, along with Xavier Hill, with first-degree murder in the deaths of April Lynn Holland, who was pregnant, and Dwayne Garvey.

Police said the pair was gunned down in a room at the Best Value Inn in Raleigh's Crabtree Valley in December 2016.

The crime was caught on a surveillance camera.

On Feb. 11, Prosecutor David Saacks told jurors Holland was a prostitute and was at the hotel turning tricks. He said Garvey was her partner in selling sex.

WATCH: Prosecutor makes opening statement

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The prosecutor laid out his case against Seaga Gillard in opening statements Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

The defense argued that the surveillance video was blurry and the jurors couldn't be sure Gillard was the person in the video. They also argued that the people shown in the video that day didn't intend on killing anyone.

"At the end of the day, it was chaotic, it was random, I submit it was tragic, but it was not first-degree murder," Gillard's attorney Edd Roberts said.

The prosecutors, on the other hand, told the jurors, "to tell you it wasn't him insults your intelligence."

"What I have to show to you is that at some point in the second, the millisecond before he pulls that trigger he thought about it, he intended it and he followed through with it. That's what I have to prove," Prosecutor Katy Pomeroy said.

The Center for Death Penalty Litigation has criticized Wake County for continuing to seek the death penalty even though juries in the county repeatedly reject it.

Attorney Elizabeth Hambourger, with the center, said Gillard's case is the tenth death penalty case in Wake County since 2008.

In each of those cases, the juries rejected the death penalty.

Hambourger represented murderer Nathan Holden in 2017 in a Wake County capital case.

While death penalty cases seem rare in Wake County, Hambourger said they are common with the county -- roughly one capital case tried per year.

However, she said most of the state is abandoning the death penalty.

"If you compare the rate of capital trials in Wake County to what other counties are doing, it's way outsized," Hambourger said. "They are doing capital trials at a much higher rate than other counties. And that's not because they're bigger. I mean if you compare it to Mecklenburg, which of course is a larger county and I would guess has more murders, certainly not less murders, than Wake County. Mecklenburg hasn't had a capital trial in years. But Wake County is still insisting on having capital trials on a regular basis."

District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she can't comment because the Gillard trial is ongoing.
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