US high court rules against woman who hid bodies in freezer

Lisa Jo Chamberlin, (left) and her boyfriend, Roger Lee Gillett, (right) were sentenced to death for killing two people and hiding them in a freezer. Chamberlin's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to rehear her case has been denied.

JACKSON – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal for a woman, who along with her boyfriend, was found guilty of killing a Hattiesburg couple and hiding their bodies in a freezer seven years ago.

Thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Jo Chamberlin was seeking a new trial after being sentenced to death in the slayings of the couple.

Chamberlin and her boyfriend, Roger Lee Gillett, were charged in the 2004 murders of Gillett’s cousin, Vernon Hullett, and Hullett’s girlfriend, Linda Heinzelman. Their bodies were found inside a freezer at a farm in Russell County, Kan., by law enforcement officers looking for illegal drugs.

Gillett claimed he raped Heinzelman with a beer bottle, before killing her, and he hit his cousin in the head with a hammer before cutting off his head and arms. Chamberlin admitted to helping Gillett dispose of the bodies in the freezer, bury the evidence and clean up the crime scene, court documents said.

When investigators conducted a second search of the farm, they uncovered the freezer where Hullett’s dismembered body was found. When his body was removed, Heintzelman’s frozen body was found underneath.

Gillett and Chamberlin were living with the victims in Hattiesburg, Miss., at the time of the slayings and were angry that the couple had asked them to move.

Court documents said that during a taped confession played at her trial, Chamberlin said the victims were killed because they wouldn’t open a safe in Hullett’s home.

Chamberlin was convicted of two counts of capital murder in 2006 and sentenced to death. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld her conviction in 2008.

Gillett, 37, was convicted of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2007.

The Associated Press reported that a Mississippi court initially denied Chamberlin’s post-conviction petition last fall and that she sought a U.S. Supreme Court review of her petition, which the justices denied without comment.

Chamberlin had claimed – among other things – that her trial attorney failed to question prospective jurors about their feelings about the death penalty, failed to raise the issue of her drug addiction and failed to raise the issue of her dominance by a co-defendant.

In a post-conviction petition, an inmate argues he or she has found new evidence or a possible constitutional issue that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

The Mississippi Supreme Court said last fall that Chamberlin failed to show how she was denied a fair trial or that the outcome would have been different. The court said it also would not second-guess decisions that appeared to be part of the defense’s trial strategy.

Prosecutors said Gillett and Chamberlin fled Mississippi to cover their tracks and hide the crime.

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