Defense witness call accused 'gentle,' dead father 'violent'

Defense witness call accused 'gentle,' dead father 'violent'

EUGENE, Ore. - Johan Gillette, the man accused of killing his father and his father's partner, is a gentle, loving person, the first witnesses for the defense said Thursday.

James Gilette described his close bond with older brother Johan

"We played tag. We hunted for snakes and lizards in the outdoors," he told the court. "Later on I tagged along with all his friends. They let me be full time quarterback a lot of the times and things like that. So they were really nice to me and let me play with them all the time."

Defense attorneys repeatedly asked witnesses to classify Johan Gillette as peaceful or not peaceful. The defense contends he killed his father in self-defense.

"Johan has always been incredibly gentle," friend Misty Declark said. "He's always avoided conflict."

In contrast, neighbors and County Commissioner Pete Sorenson described the late James Gillette as aggressive and violent.

Dr. Susan Haney, who lived with James Gillette in the late 1980s, described witnessing troubling behavior when the boys would visit their father.

“He was trying to teach them to be tough. So he’d make them put on boxing gloves and he’d make them hit each other as hard as they could, until they left marks," she told the court. "If they hit each other not hard, he would yell and call them expletives.”

His younger son described a troubling incident between his father and the defendant while Johan was learning to ride a bike.

"My brother wasn't doing what he was supposed to do. He wanted to stop. He said I want to get off the bike," he said, "so my dad just lifted up the seat of the bike and my brother went off over the handlebars into a tree."