Murder trial for Jacksonville ‘House of Horrors’ suspect Russell Tillis delayed until May

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The jury selection for Russell Tillis, the man accused of murdering a woman and burying her dismembered body, has been pushed back to May.

Tillis walked into the courtroom on Thursday with his hands shackled and he stood next to his attorneys, but never addressed the courtroom.

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He had been representing himself in court and does not want a recorded jail confession allowed as evidence.

On Thursday, a judge delayed the trial because the defense said they need more time to prepare his case.

Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said that confession could impact the murder trial.

“If the jury takes it as an actual confession, this ‘jailhouse recording,’ then of course he would very clearly get convicted if you’re admitting to the actual killing and burying," Carson said.

Tillis is accused of murdering Joni Gunter, whose dismembered body was found buried in his backyard of his Southside home in 2016.

He is also accused of leaving razor blades and traps around his property to keep police and neighbors away in what his neighbors said was a “House of Horrors.”

Action News Jax told you in December when we got our hands on a handwritten document by Tillis himself.

The 71-page document details how another inmate tried to get him to confess to burying bodies and how he believed the inmate was working with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to force a confession.

Carson tells Action News Jax he thinks the recording will be allowed during trial.

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"It’s unlikely that the court will find that the recording made of a prisoner while in custody by someone who is providing with them what’s known as consensual monitoring would be thrown out," Carson said.

A ruling on that evidence is expected Jan. 13.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Tillis.

The trial is expected to start on May 11.

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