Ryan Russell Found Guilty of Killing 11-Year Old Cousin

By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It took a Shelby County jury just 35 minutes to convict a man of killing his 11-year old cousin.

The eight men and four women found Ryan Russell guilty of capital murder in the death of Katherine Gillespie.  Russell was caring for Gillespie as her legal guardian after the girl's mother died.

Prosecutors called Gillespie's murder particularly heinous, atrocious and cruel.  During their case, they pulled out all stops, even going as far as to build a full-size replica of the laundry room area where the girl was shot to death.

Family members of both Russell and Gillespie say they were pleased with the verdict. They had also hoped to learn why Russell committed the crime but felt they never got a true answer.

Tommy Russell, who grew up with Ryan Russell, says he believes the defendant deserves the death penalty in this case.  Jurors will return to court on Monday to begin the penalty phase of the case.  They can recommend life in prison without the possibility of parole or death.