A jury convicted Jason Gilley for the kidnapping and murder of 23-year-old Dalene Carlson in a San Joaquin County court Thursday morning.
“While I’m glad the jury came to this decision, it was the right decision, we still have a young girl who was missing for so long, 73 days and at 23 years old her life was ended. It’s never a happy occasion,” said Prosecutor Robert Himelblau.
The trial had spanned for 10 days, while the jury took two days to come to their verdict.
“I think what you’re seeing is, and this happens with a lot of juries, they’re very conscientious. And especially in this particular case, you have two young individuals, you have Dalene Carlson who’s was cut short so low, there’s a lot of pressure on them to come to a proper decision,” Himelblau said.
Carlson had disappeared in August 2011. Her body was found in a field in Escalon in the following October. Gilley was arrested and charged days later.
“On the other hand, you have a young man who has his whole life ahead of him and they want to make sure they do the right thing before they put him in prison for the rest of his life and that weighed heavily on them,” Himelblau added.
The jury also found Gilley guilty using a gun in Carlson’s murder, and guilty of murder during the commission of a kidnapping.
Gilley’s mother Debbie Cook maintains her son’s innocence.
“They think they have the right man and they don’t,” Cook said. “The gun does not match, the casings are different from the crime scene.”
Cook believes that the jury was swayed by the emotional arguments put forth by the district attorney.
“The DA was very emotional, very dramatic … He had me crying during the trial just from the dramatics. But I knew the facts,” Cook said.
The jury of three men and nine women did not reach a verdict on the second special circumstance – rape. Judge Hoyt declared a mistrial on that circumstance.
Still, Carlson’s family believes that justice has been served.
“I can’t really tell you how I feel, but Dalene finally got her justice that she’d been waiting for,” said Margaret Baker, Carlson’s aunt.
Gilley will be sentenced Nov. 4.
Rowena Shaddox and Ian McDonald contributed to this report.