Ryan Russell sentenced to death for 11-year-old’s murder

By Arielle Clay

COLUMBIANA, AL (WBRC) - What is more heinous than a child being killed by a man she called daddy? That is just one question Judge Michael Joiner posed Thursday in court before sentencing Ryan Russell to death.

The judge was responding to the defenses last argument to keep Russell from death. They said the execution of Katherine Gillespie was not heinous, atrocious or cruel because the 11-year-old died instantly and did not suffer. The judge disagreed.

Both the defense and the state were allowed to make arguments before the judge handed down the sentence.  Russell, who showed little emotion, was also asked if he would like to make a statement.  He simply told the judge no.

Several family members of both Gillespie and Russell were in court for the sentencing. They wore buttons with Gillespie's face on them. One cousin says he is happy with the turnout.

Because of the nature of this case, it will go to an automatic appeal and Russell will likely have a new team of lawyers during that appeal.

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