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John Gillespie to be sworn in as Wichita County District Attorney January 1

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) - In 2018, Wichita County voters decided they wanted change at the top and elected Wichita County First Assistant District Attorney John Gillespie. Part of Gillespie's campaign focused on his former boss: District Attorney Maureen Shelton, saying she didn't carry a full case load and did not act as lead prosecutor as often as she should.
    
After resigning and winning the primary, Gillespie took time off to prepare and did some appeals cases. But he was back in the courtroom soon as special prosecutor, winning a conviction in a major trial in Montague County.

"I've done a lot of planning. I've done some work on the side and most recently, I was special prosecutor in a manslaughter case in Montague county, that wrapped up a couple weeks ago," said Gillespie, Wichita County District Attorney-Elect (at the time of this story). "I got to be friends with Casey Polhemus, the district attorney for the 97th [court] and did some appeals for her and she was talking about this case she had. And I said: 'I've done quite a few of those in Wichita County.' So, she brought me on board to take the lead on that. It was a pretty complex case," Gillespie said.
    
Gillespie said he doesn't plan to make many personnel changes in the D.A.'s office, but does have plans he wants to put in place and soon.

"My goal is to make sure that identity crime means serious time. That's priority one for me. Secondly, I'm going to create a panel inside the office to review every single capital case that is filed. There are some cases that are so heinous that that is the only just sentence in my opinion. Third: I'm going to have some specialized prosecutors. And then fourth: I've pledged repeatedly in the campaign I'd be an active district attorney in court. I will have a case load every week. I'll be in court on Fridays with the docket and I'll actively be trying cases. I was really proud to get to do the case in Montague earlier this month, because I think it sets the tone for the type of district attorney I want to be," said Gillespie.

The Burkburnett native has sixteen years experience as a prosecutor. The most infamous of cases Gillespie won as prosecutor was the one involving Sara Woody, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison on child abuse charges.

Other elected officials being sworn in include Wichita County Precinct four Comissioner Jeff Watts. He'll be sworn in again, after defeating his challenger Catie Robinson. Rodney Burchett, Robert Woodruff and Robert Johnson will all become Justices of the Peace, joining Judy Baker. And Jeff McKnight takes over as 30th District Judge, after Judge Bob Brotherton recently retired.
 


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