PORTLAND – A Pittston man who packed his handgun in his trunk, drove to his mother’s house and killed his mother and his estranged wife in front of his young children was convicted Wednesday of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Prosecutors were dismayed that jurors who deliberated about nine hours refused to return a murder conviction for Jon Dilley.
Because of the lesser conviction, the defense has the right to seek bail while Dilley awaits sentencing. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison; murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said she would “fight vehemently” to keep Dilley behind bars while awaiting sentencing.
Dilley, 52, was convicted of gunning down his mother, Sarah Murray, 71, and his wife, Chevelle “Chellie” Calloway, 41, after an argument Aug. 21, 2004, at Murray’s summer home in Boothbay Harbor.
The couple’s children, Emma, 9, and Miles, 6, were present when the shootings took place. One of them testified about what she saw.
Dilley never denied killing the women, but the defense contended he was in a “depersonalized” state of mind at the time of the shootings that prevented him from forming the necessary criminal intent for a murder conviction.
Defense lawyer Steven Peterson said he, too, was surprised by the verdict.
If Dilley’s state of mind prevented him from being convicted of murder, then he didn’t understand how jurors found that he acted either recklessly or with criminal negligence, which is necessary for a manslaughter conviction, Peterson said.
He vowed to appeal, and to ask for bail.
Marchese, meanwhile, said she would consider asking for consecutive sentences, which could mean a sentence of greater than 30 years. If he received such a sentence, it could end up being a life sentence for Dilley.
Dilley didn’t show emotion as he was led from the courtroom. Later, he was escorted from the courthouse in a yellow jail uniform.
Calloway’s family declined to talk to reporters. Jurors, too, filed out of the courthouse without offering any comment.
“The family is very disappointed with the verdict, and I understand why,” said Marchese, who said she respected the jury’s verdict even though she felt strongly that the evidence pointed toward murder, not manslaughter.
The fact that Dilley took a handgun from his bedside and put it in his trunk before going to pick up his children pointed toward premeditation, she said.
After an argument, Dilley went to the car and retrieved the 9mm handgun, one of several in the trunk. Then he shot his way through the home’s glass front door before shooting his wife in the living room and his mother as she tried to run away.
Emma, who is now 11, testified that her mother was on the floor covering her head when her father shot her. She said her father was angry and swearing.