Gloria Killian (Photo: Randy Belice)
In December 1981, two men disguised as telephone repairmen entered the home of an elderly couple in Rosemont, California, shot both occupants, killing one, and stole six suitcases full of silver. An anonymous phone call led to the arrest of one of the perpetrators, Gary Masse. Masse’s wife told police that a woman named “Gloria” planned the robbery.
Gloria Killian was initially arrested along with Masse, but charges against her were dropped after a preliminary hearing. However, after Masse was convicted of first-degree felony murder and sentenced to life without parole, he contacted the Sacramento sheriff to see if he could reduce his sentence by testifying against two others he claimed were involved, Killian and a man named DeSantis. Killian was rearrested and tried. DeSantis testified at his separate trial that Killian was not involved in the crime and that he had never met her. But Masse testified against Killian at her trial and, based solely on his testimony, a jury convicted Killian of first-degree murder, attempted murder, burglary, robbery, and conspiracy; she was sentenced to 32-years-to-life in prison.
The prosecution failed to give the defense letters from Masse seeking a deal in exchange for his testimony that indicated that he may have been lying. Masse later admitted that much of the evidence he gave was false, including his testimony that he had not made a deal with the prosecution in exchange for testimony, and that Killian was the mastermind behind the robbery. Killian’s conviction was overturned and she was released in August 2002. The charges against her were dismissed a month later.
Read the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion granting habeas relief
Listen to Gloria Killian on The Story
Purchase Gloria Killian's memoir, Full Circle: A True Story of Murder, Lies, and Vindication