Russell Tillis representation dispute delays trial

57-year-old charged with kidnapping, killing, dismembering woman


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After Russell Tillis changed his mind about representing himself in his upcoming trial in the murder of Joni Gunter, a judge granted his attorney's request for a delay.

The trail had been set for Nov. 5 but was pushed back Thursday to May 6.

Gunter's remains were found buried at Tillis' home on Jacksonville's Southside while Tillis was in jail on charges of assaulting two police officers. He acted as his own lawyer when he was first arrested.

An attorney was eventually appointed for him. Tillis, 57, is also charged with kidnapping, human trafficking and abusing a dead body. It’s a death penalty case.

Since then, he’s gone through no less than eight lawyers, complaining repeatedly they weren’t following his wishes.

Lawyers No. 7 and  No. 8 were allowed to withdraw recently, and the judge ruled Tillis could defend himself. But Tillis decided Tuesday that he wants a lawyer, just not his previous attorney, Michael Bossen.

Judge Mark Borello dismissed Tillis' complaints about Bossen, saying he was providing adequate counsel and giving Tillis the option to either represent himself or have Bossen represent him.

Tillis agreed to accept Bossen but said he would object to the appointment.

Bossen said Tuesday that he needed time to hire an investigator, because Tillis also got rid of the previous one. On Thursday, Borello granted Bossen's motion for a continuance.

Tillis will be back in court Dec. 4.