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Accused killer in Raleigh hotel murders had a gun he called ‘Lemon Squeeze,’ woman testifies

Trial in Raleigh death penalty case begins Monday

The death penalty trial of Seaga Gillard, accused of fatally shooting a pregnant woman inside a Raleigh hotel room in December of 2016, began on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 at the Wake County Justice Center.
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The death penalty trial of Seaga Gillard, accused of fatally shooting a pregnant woman inside a Raleigh hotel room in December of 2016, began on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 at the Wake County Justice Center.

A 22-year-old Randolph County woman testified Wednesday that she met accused killer Seaga Gillard after advertising for prostitution through the online dating service PlentyofFish, and that soon after he threatened to shoot her with a gun he named “Lemon Squeeze.”

The third day of the death penalty case against Gillard, 31, moved deeper into his history, bringing up testimony about guns and violence in his past.

Gillard and co-defendant Brandon Hill are accused in the 2016 shooting of April Holland, 22, and her 28-year-old boyfriend Dwayne Garvey in the former America’s Best Value Inn near Crabtree Valley Mall, where Holland was working as a prostitute in room 202.

On Wednesday, Kara Lambe from Randolph County, west of the Triangle, told prosecutors she began advertising on “P.O.F.” at age 17 due to family problems and drug issues.

In November 2016, weeks before Holland and Garvey were killed, she met a man named Carlos through the dating service, she testified. She said he took her from her father’s house in Snow Camp to his apartment on East Juniper Avenue in Wake Forest.

Shortly afterward, she saw his ID on the living room couch showing the name Seaga Gillard. Later, a Raleigh police detective testified, he took her to the Raleigh Inn off New Bern Avenue.

During her time there, she testified, she learned that he had a gun he named “Lemon Squeeze,” which he put to her face and instructed her to show her teeth.

“He said, ‘If you don’t love me your blood will be all over these walls,’” Lambe said.

Gillard’s defense objected during her testimony, which caused jurors to temporarily leave the courtroom. During that time, Gillard’s attorney Jonathan Broun noted a court order limiting Lambe’s testimony about his client’s past.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway instructed her, without the jury present, not to talk about Gillard forcing her into prostitution or taking money she earned from sex work.

Gillard took her phone and left her alone in Raleigh, Lambe testified, so she gave another woman at the hotel $20 to drive her home. Soon after, she reported the case to Raleigh police out of fear, she said. But she texted Gillard, too.

“I still had feelings for him,” she said.

After the shooting at the America’s Best Value Inn, Raleigh police Det. Zeke Morse testified, he circulated pictures from the surveillance camera, showing two suspects in the hallway and room 202, one of them shooting Garvey and one extending his arm to shoot Holland.

An anonymous tip gave him Gillard’s name, and after searching for it, he found it in Lambe’s police report. When she saw the pictures, she identified Gillard and an associate she knew only as “B.”

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Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.


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