WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — When the pandemic hit Wichita County last year, the legal system slowed to a crawl, courtrooms sat empty and justice was anything but swift.
In recent weeks, though, the jury selection rooms and courts have been full, and the zoom cameras are turned off.
All three district courts have had trials over the last week.
For Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie, getting back into the courtroom has been at the top of his list.
“March 16th of 2020, I finished up a capital murder jury trial, and then we went into county Covid lockdown, and so it shut all of the courts down from March of 2020 to August of 2021,” Gillespie said.
Since the courts have opened back up, Gillespie said they have been going nonstop, trial after trial, plea after plea, trying to play catch up.
“Crime doesn’t stop just because of the courts having to be closed due to the pandemic,” Gillespie said. “We were having murders and aggravated sexual assault cases and child molestation cases that were backing up on the docket, and so I think we were all eager to get back into the courtroom and start trying the back log.”
Since the courts have opened back up, Gillespie and his team have put several criminals behind bars with hefty sentences.
“We started with a vengeance,” Gillespie said. “Since we were able to get back into the courtroom in August we tried an elderly abuse case and got a 25 year sentence on that; we tried two different child molestation cases and got life sentences.”
Something that Gillespie said he was called to do is get justice for victims and their families. While the courts were closed, Gillespie found it frustrating not being able to put or keep violent offenders behind bars.
“I love to be in the courtroom fighting for justice for the most vulnerable, and so it was very frustrating to not be able to do that for a number of months due to Covid.”
Gillespie said moving forward, he will do everything in his power to fight for victims and bring their offenders to justice.
Gillespie’s most current violent crime case is Michael Corey in the 30th District Court, which is being prosecuted by Misty King and Kyle Lessor.