WILKES-BARRE — Her mouth said “yes” as her head was shaking “no.”
Amid tears, head shaking and long pauses, Jessica Alinsky pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in Luzerne County Court on Wednesday morning, admitting to the 2011 shooting death of her boyfriend, Matthew Gailie, inside his Hazle Township home.
Then, as she was led away in shackles, Alinsky made remarks to the victim’s family members and the media suggesting she didn’t do it.
“I would never hurt him. Time will tell and the truth will come out,” Alinsky, 30, said as sheriff’s deputies escorted her from court.
As far as the law is concerned, however, the former Shenandoah resident is a killer, and she will remain an orange-clad resident of the Luzerne County Correctional Facility until sentencing on May 16, when Alinsky could receive up to 40 years in prison for the Sept. 2, 2011, killing.
Gailie, 34, died of a single gunshot wound to the face inside the home he and Alinsky had been sharing on Muskegon Circle in Eagle Rock, a gated resort community. Alinsky was arrested last July following a coroner’s inquest into Gailie’s death.
Alinsky on Wednesday admitted to one count of criminal homicide for third-degree murder, with a second charge of tampering with evidence withdrawn as part of the plea agreement.
Still, as Gartley proceeded slowly and methodically through the guilty plea colloquy, loudly enunciating every word, Alinsky hesitated each time the judge asked her to answer a question or confirm her continued intent to plead guilty, often shaking her head from side to side even as she quietly muttered “Yes, your honor.”
For Alinsky, who was crying and sniffling for much of the morning’s appearance, Wednesday was not the first time her words seemed at odds with what was happening around her. Police said Alinsky gave investigators four different versions of what took place while they were probing Gailie’s death:
• First, Alinsky told police she and Gailie had gotten into an argument and she was upstairs when Gailie shot himself.
• Then she said she was in a downstairs bathroom when she heard a pop and emerged from the bathroom to find Gailie on the floor.
• Then she told police she was in the living room when she saw Gailie shoot himself.
• Next, she told police she was in the living room with Gailie and tried to get the gun away from him when it went off.
While walking to a vehicle on her way to questioning at state police headquarters in West Hazleton, Alinsky allegedly paused, stared toward the house and said, “Our fight caused this to happen. I did this. What am I going to do without him?”
Then, after she was advised of her constitutional rights at state police headquarters, Alinsky denied shooting Gailie, moving his body or placing the pistol in his hand, police said, and details of her story changed during the course of the investigation.
According to court paperwork filed by the prosecution earlier this month, Alinsky and Gailie dated for two and a half years. The couple had numerous fights, including Alinsky throwing coffee and a bag of clothes at Gailie and a DVD player that damaged his vehicle, prosecutors wrote.
Gailie, a state corrections officer, showed up at work with scratches on his body and told co-workers Alinsky threatened him with a knife, prosecutors wrote.
‘My best friend’
Speaking to reporters in the courthouse rotunda, Gailie’s sister, Ariana, 35, lovingly described an older brother who was only 18 months her senior and with whom she graduated from Port Jervis High School in New York state.
“He was my best friend,” the Yonkers, N.Y., woman said of her brother, who would have turned 37 today.
Ariana Gailie also expressed some relief.
“The ends justified the means. It’s been a long process. It’s been two years already, over two years, so we’re ready for it to be over, and we’re ready to move on,” she said.
But Ariana Gailie also acknowledged Alinsky’s apparent about-face, noting the defendant also told family members she didn’t commit the crime while being led out of court.
“At this point, we’re ready for anything,” Gailie said, when asked if she was concerned about the possibility of Alinsky seeking to withdraw her plea before sentencing.
“I feel sorry for her. She’s delusional.”
Efforts to reach Alinsky’s attorney, Jeffrey Markosky, of Mahanoy City, were not immediately successful later Wednesday.
Assistant District Attorneys Daniel Zola and Jill Matthews said they could not comment until after sentencing.
Asked about the possibility of plea withdrawal, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said: “There is always that possibility with every case. Defendants have the right to withdraw their plea up to their sentencing.”