Victims’ friends outraged by verdicts


AUGUSTA (AP) – Friends and advocates for the two women who were gunned down by Jon Dilley two years ago say they are shocked and outraged by the manslaughter verdicts returned at his trial earlier this week.

They also say the Cumberland County Superior Court jury’s finding sets back efforts to discourage domestic violence.

The jury of eight women and four men found the 52-year-old Dilley guilty of the lesser crimes of manslaughter in the shooting of his mother, Sarah Murray, 71, and his wife, Chevelle “Chellie” Calloway, 41. Dilley and Calloway’s two children witnessed the shootings that took place in August 2004 when they were 9 and 6 years old.

“I’m devastated,” said Jane Paxton, who taught with Calloway at Cony High School in Augusta. “It was a cold-blooded, planned murder. By bringing all those guns with him and doing this heinous act in front of his children, it’s just appalling that (the verdict) was manslaughter instead of murder.”

Testimony during last week’s trial revealed that Dilley and Calloway had an argument the day of the killings in Boothbay Harbor. After arguing, he went to the car and retrieved the 9mm handgun, one of several in the trunk. He shot his way through the home’s glass front door before shooting his wife in the living room and his mother as she tried to run away.

Dilley’s defense testified that he was “depersonalized” at the time. Paxton said that may have been the case, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t responsible for his actions.

Carol Gray, who took care of Calloway’s two children at a Farmingdale day-care facility, says she was “dumbfounded” when she heard the verdict, which she says opens the door to people not taking responsibility for their violent actions.

“It’s horrible,” said Gray. “That guy is a master manipulator. he knows exactly what he did.”

Dilley has yet to be sentenced. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Dilley’s defense attorney, Steven Peterson, says he plans to appeal the verdict.