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Rally held to push for arrests in two deaths
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Vicki Marsh, the mother of Christopher Hollis, addresses a crowd of supporters Sunday afternoon in front of Warren County Courthouse.
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Supporters hold signs Sunday in front of Warren County Courthouse seeking arrests to be made in the deaths of Christopher Hollis and Japeth Gilley.

A crowd of around 50 people gathered Sunday afternoon on Court Square seeking arrests for the gunshot deaths of two local men this year.

Christopher Hollis, 36, was shot and killed Oct. 24 while traveling in his vehicle on Sparta Highway. Japeth Gilley, 19, died after suffering a gunshot wound at a residence in Morrison on Feb. 2.

The cases are similar in that both men reportedly died from gunshot wounds to the head and there hasn’t been an arrest made in either case.

Vicki Marsh, the mother of Hollis, didn’t mince her words when addressing the crowd Sunday afternoon.

“My son’s murderer needs to be arrested and charged,” said Marsh. “We feel the man who did this is being protected by the law. It’s been 35 days. To the people whose jobs it is to protect us, we demand they do their job.”

Marsh contends the man who shot and killed her son is being protected because he has relatives who work for McMinnville Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department. 

District Attorney Lisa Zavogiannis recused herself from the case because an employee in her office is related to Hollis. Special prosecutor Craig Northcott, who is the district attorney in Coffee County, has been assigned the case.

“After our last meeting with the DA, our family walked out of there sad and hurt,” said Hollis. “The DA told us that no charges will be filed until they can disprove it was self-defense.”

A gun was found in the Hollis vehicle and it’s been claimed he pointed it at the motorist who shot and killed him. Northcott has told the Standard he expects the investigation to take months to complete due to lab reports.

Friends and family members were also on hand holding signs for Japeth Gilley. He was dropped off at the River Park emergency room at 6 a.m. on Feb. 2 with the female driver leaving the scene shortly after hospital staff got him inside.

His grandmother, Renee Breedlove, says there needs to be an arrest.

“From what I’ve been told, there were 9 to 13 people inside an apartment at the Morrison projects at the time,” said Breedlove. “I’ve been told they think it may have been suicide, but why would he be shot through the left temple if he was right handed? And if it was suicide, why haven’t they recovered a gun? If he shot himself, the gun would be right there, but they haven’t recovered a gun. He was driven around for one hour and 49 minutes based on the GPS tracker, but it was probably longer than that. He was cleaned up so you couldn’t tell he was shot in the head and when he was dropped off at the hospital, staff was told he overdosed so they started treating him with Narcan. They didn’t know. Then they saw he had been shot in the head.”

Zavogiannis says her office has spent much time investigating the Gilley case. She says all the conflicting stories from people who were reportedly at the scene that night make it nearly impossible to determine what happened.

Zavogiannis says the case continues to have her attention. She pointed out family members should continue to have hope because it took a decade to make an arrest in the death of Rebecca Mooneyham, who was shot through her living room window while she slept.