On the night of Sept. 2, 2011, in Wilkes-Barr, Pennsylvania, a call came into 911. “He’s dying on me and he’s not moving,” said Jessica Lynn Alinsky, obviously distraught. “I’m covered in (expletive) blood.”
Alinsky told the 911 operator her boyfriend Matthew Gailie, 34, had shot himself in the face after the couple had a fight, according to the . It would later be revealed Alinsky, then 28, had earlier been drinking at a nearby bar and was so drunk she got kicked out. When police arrived, she told different accounts of what happened, creating a web of lies that would eventually seal her fate.
Two years later, a coroner's inquest would rule Gailie’s death a homicide, after determining the angle of his gunshot wound would have made it impossible for him to shoot himself, according to . While Alinsky initially admitted moving the gun, and briefly flirted with a guilty plea, she ultimately decided to go to trial. She was later found guilty of third-degree murder and tampering with evidence and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
At her sentencing an unrepentant Jessica said, “I am remorseful, that I was wrongfully convicted,” according to the .
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Zola helped put Jessica Alinsky in prison and spoke to Oxygen about the case, which is the subject of an “” episode.
How did you first become aware of the Jessica Alinsky case?
I was called by then-District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll and assigned the case. The original 911 call came in 11:47 p.m. on September 2, 2011 and I arrived on the scene in the very early morning hours of September 3. When it comes to homicides, we try to get an assistant district attorney there as soon as we can. Personally, it’s something I have always done throughout my career. I try to make sure I am there, on scene, so I can better understand the case and assist if any legal opinions are needed.
What made you believe it was a crime scene and not a suicide, as Jessica claimed.
Having been at dozens and dozens of crime scenes, including murders and other deaths, I knew right away. When I walked in and saw the positioning of Matt’s body and where the gun was positioned, it was not consistent with what I have seen at suicides or accident scenes.
What was more damaging to Alinsky’s defense; her changing stories or the physical evidence?
It was a combination of both. During those early morning hours, she had given four different statements to the police, unsolicited. In the end she would give approximately nine different versions. It was a combination of that, taken together with the physical evidence that made this such a powerful case for the prosecution.
I can tell you from the defense standpoint, what was most damning were those nine different versions she gave. She had a very experienced trial attorney, Demetrius Fannick, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, but that was an impossible feat to overcome. He could have put a spin on the physical evidence, there’s always a way to do that, but there’s never a way to come back from your client’s own words once the jury hear it.
For our case, the physical evidence was very compelling. The police officers did an excellent job processing that scene. The forensic pathologist who did the distance determinations did an outstanding job. Once we had all that, even if we didn’t have her different versions of what happened, we would have been successful at trial. They just put the nail in the trial.
What were your fears going into the trial?
I was worried that one of the jurors, someone who hadn’t been witness to a traumatic incident, like seeing someone commit suicide, might be sitting there saying to themselves, ‘Well geez, I don’t know how I would react. Maybe it would take me time to call 911.’ What troubled me was, how do we present our case in such a way that we show them that this was not normal behavior for anyone under these circumstances. If it was a suicide, you immediately call 911, which she didn’t do, you immediately notify your family members, which she did not do, and you tell the truth. There’s no reason to lie if you just witnessed a suicide.
Why do you think Jessica still claims so emphatically that she’s innocent? Wouldn’t being contrite lead to an earlier parole?
Here’s her problem; Jessica is her own worst enemy. She created too many lies, for too long, and told them to people who are important to her; her mother, her stepfather, her sister. To turn around and then confess to those people that she lied to them all along, that would be impossible for her to do.
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