Murder in a Small Town

An Alexis woman is accused of killing three people, including her husband, in what investigators are calling a disturbing love triangle.


Gaston County police released a 911 call about the crime that involved 42-year-old Crystal Gambino, who is currently in custody, her 40-year-old husband Giovanni Gambino, and a couple they apparently met online: 39-year-old Geoffrey Gilliland and 33-year-old Stephanie Sanchez. The caller states that Ms. Gambino confessed to killing her husband after catching him with another woman, and then “she cleaned up the bullet casings and took care of the body.” Detectives believe the three individuals were shot in a bedroom before they were buried outside.


Investigators also think that, shortly after Ms. Gambino pulled the trigger, she picked up her nine-year-old stepdaughter from a nearby school and left her with a family member.


Homicide Crimes

In North Carolina, a murder victim can be a person born alive or a fetus (the statute specifically excludes abortions and related procedures). There are four general categories:


  • First Degree Murder: Any premeditated killing or one caused by a weapon of mass destruction or during the commission of a felony.


  • Second Degree Murder: A killing with malice aforethought but without premeditation or other aggravating circumstances.


  • Voluntary Manslaughter: An intentional killing in response to provocation or that takes place in the heat of passion.


  • Involuntary Manslaughter: Death as a result of a non-felonious act which is not ordinarily considered dangerous.


As in all other states, all these charges carry long prison sentences and steep fines, not to mention the long-term effects of a conviction.


Homicide Defenses


There are a number of defenses which can be leveraged during the evidentiary portion of the trial to have the case thrown out or force the prosecutor to proceed without key evidence, during the punishment portion to obtain leniency, or during pretrial negotiations with prosecutors for a reduced charge or reduced sentence.


According to Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart) in the 1959 film Anatomy of a Murder, these defenses fall into four categories:


  • It Wasn’t You: All homicide cases rest on circumstantial evidence, which is always subject to legal and factual challenges, as well as varying interpretations.


  • It Wasn’t Murder: The penalties for justifiable homicide are quite a bit lower than the ones for murder; in some cases, probation may even be an option.


  • It Was Justified: North Carolina is a stand-your-ground state, which means that there is no duty to retreat prior to the use of deadly force against an attacker. Other justification and self-defense laws are equally defendant-friendly.


  • It Was Excused: By its common-law definition, insanity is the inability to know right from wrong by reason of mental defect or disease.


Other defenses are available, most notably violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protocols regarding arrest, search, and seizure.


Attorneys Who Are on Your Side


The prosecutor’s primary goal in a murder case is to convict the defendant. But at Remington & Dixon, PLLC, our Charlotte, NC criminal defense lawyers are committed to the best defense possible. Contact us today so we can get to work for you. Our office is conveniently located in Charlotte.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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