Motions filed to block death penalty in Russell Tillis case

Tillis charged with kidnapping & murder of Joni Gunter

Russell Tillis appears in court on Tuesday, April 30.
Russell Tillis appears in court on Tuesday, April 30.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Having convinced a judge to delay next month's trial, attorneys for Russell Tillis, the man charged with kidnapping, killing and burying a woman in the yard of his Southside home, have filed motions to block prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Attorneys Chuck Fletcher and John Rockwell were appointed in March as the 10th and 11th lawyers to represent Tillis.

Their motions ask Judge Mark Borello to declare Florida’s death penalty law unconstitutional. The death penalty motions were not discussed during a court hearing Tuesday. 

In addition, the attorneys have filed a motion seeking a mental competency evaluation for Tillis. During Tuesday's hearing, the judge appointed a psychologist to examine Tillis. 

Tillis is charged in the murder of Joni Gunter, whose dismembered remains were found buried in his yard in 2016.

Tillis' next court date is May 15.