Tim’s Story

Tim Guilfoy grew up in a loving family and graduated from St. John Vianney High School in 2002 in Kirkwood, MO, a quiet suburb of St. Louis.  He was active in school life, playing football and percussion in band.  Tim went on to graduate from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with a BA in Music and Business.  Tim was a product of a close-knit family, which included his two parents, Patrick and Francene, his big sister Katie (myself), and older brother Tony.  It was a typical white-bread suburban life with a lot of laughs.  All three kids were active in their church and found deep satisfaction in service and being a help to their community, and brothers and sister have been loving friends all the way through.  Katie the brainy and bossy musician, Tony the comic relief/uniter, and Tim, the snarky premature financial guru who started working after school at age 12 and bought his first car before he was old enough to get his license.

After college, Tim achieved a promising job in marketing, traveling the country for several international corporations.  During this time, he decided to start investing in real estate.  He bought a rental property in Clarksville, TN, home of the 101st Airborne, and was in the market to acquire more properties in multiple other markets.  Tim was a self-made man, who wasn’t rich but was working hard with the small amount of money he saved to eventually get there.

Tim had several friends in Tennessee with whom he kept in contact, including a former neighbor of his from when he spent a semester interning at SONY during college.  She asked to rent a house from him for her and her children.  She wanted to improve her life, wanting to quit drugs and alcohol and go back to school.  She asked Tim to rent to her because she could not get into a traditional lease due to having no previous credit or rental history.  Tim made her prove her intentions by requiring her to stay clean and go back to school for one semester first, which she did, and he generously agreed to rent the house to her.

Within a month of moving in, she dropped out of school and started using again.  Between September 2008 and March 2009, she became thousands of dollars behind in rent.  Tim used his business contacts to get her a job at a local gas station, and within two months she was fired for getting caught playing lotto tickets on duty. She did not seek another job.

On March 11, 2009 Tim told her that she had to pay the entire current month’s rent and back rent, a total of $2975, by her next due date of March 25, or he would have to evict her.  Tim was out of savings to cover her missed rent payments and was facing imminent foreclosure.

On March 18, 2009 She called the police and, omitting the fact that her debts to him were coming to bear, told them Tim had raped all three of her daughters.  Without any sort of investigation into even superficial details of the Astles’ claims, Detective Ginger Fittings of the Clarksville Police Department set up a controlled phone call to secretly elicit audio from Tim that could be formed into a confession.  She used the Reid Technique through Jen that assumes guilt and coerces a “perpetrator” to incriminate themselves, and although Tim did not give a narrative confession, Fittings re-ordered his statements to make it appear he did to a judge for a warrant.

On March 25, 2009 (The day the current and back rent was due) Tim was arrested and charged with one count of rape of child.  He was not questioned by the police.  He was not read his Miranda rights.  The children had not been taken to a medical facility.  Tim did not receive a preliminary hearing.  No investigation into the financial relationship between Tim and his accusers was considered.

A month later, the children were finally examined and no evidence of injury or sexual assault was found whatsoever.  Although the mother told the police she was moving out of Tim’s property immediately, and later having testified to the same, she has since admitted that she lied and continued to live in the house for months after Tim’s arrest, never paying current or back rent.  She also made allegations in Davidson County in TN, and Tim was arrested again, and new rape charges were filed in that county.

From the very beginning, Tim was considered a guilty perpetrator by all police and district attorneys involved until proven innocent, and the State steadfastly refused to examine the accusers’ stories and the problems therein.  No further investigation was done by the State whatsoever, and after Tim refused a plea deal, the State gave notice they were going to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.  Tim’s family and friends rallied immediately.  They put up thousands of dollars for Tim’s release on bond and representation at trial.  Tim was able to work in a limited capacity and get back somewhat on his feet financially to deal with the upcoming trial as best as he could.

It was two and a half years after Tim was arrested that Tennessee brought him to trial.  Within that period when both sides were preparing arguments, the details of the allegations from the alleged victims changed so dramatically that the State had to drop the original charges and re-arraign Tim based on these new allegations (again without any further investigation or preliminary hearing).

At the first trial in July 2011 it was clear that the allegations from the children and the mother did not coincide in any way and were not supported by any corroborating evidence whatsoever.  For example, the mother testified to nine specific dates that she claims abuse definitely occurred.  However, testimony from Tim’s co-worker and another friend, backed up with work schedules and credit card receipts, proved that Tim was not even in the state of Tennessee on these dates.  This trial ended up in a hung jury.  One of these jurors said it was “crystal clear” that Jen, the mother, was lying and the kids showed no hint of being stressed by the sight of Tim which didn’t jive in her mind.

The State tried him again three months later in October 2011. At the second trial, the mother (having heard the defense’s alibi testimony of the first trial) then claimed that she did not remember any specific dates and stated that Tim simply did these crimes “sometime” across a time period of nearly four years.  One of the children was impeached on conflicting testimony of this trial versus what she said in the first trial.  The mother was caught in perjury on the stand which she admitted.  In fact, the details from the allegations from the mother and the girls changed so much so that one of the charges had to be dropped mid-trial.

Even though these types of charges are almost impossible to defend against (because it is impossible to prove a negative), the State clearly did not meet the Burden of Proof, and showed through their strategy that they knew their witnesses were untruthful, yet most unethically never relented on impelling the jury to convict.  From the State’s closing statement:

“The original and most significant proof against Mr. Guilfoy, and proof that he molested these children, is that they say he did and have no reason to lie about it…if you believe in your heart that they were telling the truth when they did that, that’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”  TTClosing p. 56, lines 17-19, p. 57 lines 8-10

We learned later through polling that the jurors didn’t make their guilty verdict based on what happened in the courtroom.  In fact, the jurors that spoke to us said that the in-court testimonies were weak, didn’t make sense, or were too confusing to follow and some were inclined to acquit based on the shadiness of the Astles and their financial relationship to Tim.  Those that talked to us reported that it would have been another hung jury with just what was presented in trial, but the prosecutors offered them “extra evidence” against Tim to view in secret off the record during their deliberations.  A unanimous verdict of guilty was reached only after viewing a video not shown in court (in fact, no videos were ever shown during the whole trial), which changed minds of those that were not convinced of the weak and non-credible testimony as given from the witness stand.  Many jurors who voted guilty would not talk to us about it, but the ones that did said that the videos the bailiff showed them outside of the courtroom made up their minds.  Reports of what was on these videos were the kids giving completely different stories than what they said in court, and every reporter says that they were clearly edited, included only damning accusations, and ended with the state child advocacy worker listing a set of charges that didn’t match up with the courtroom testimony but ended up matching the verdict sheet exactly.  Thus, this jury wasn’t 100% sure he was guilty after hearing all the legally admitted testimony in court, but convicted him anyway, and the clincher was a video Tim never saw.  Three of these jurors have contacted me to say they would testify to the videos being watched and the fact they were the reason for conviction, but the trial judge and appellate courts have ruled that they cannot testify to outside influence brought into the jury room (in defiance of TN Rules of Evidence 606b).  One of the jurors has come forward to apologize for her role in putting Tim and our family through this pain and injustice.  It wasn’t her fault, or any of them.  It was the illegal collusion and tampering of the court and prosecutors that denied Tim his sixth amendment right to confrontation of all evidence used against him.  He still to this day has not seen those videos.

The actual law said that any request from a juror (which we found out about in 2016) should have been written on a note, sent to the judge, and all parties including Tim and a court reporter should have been called back to court to read and litigate the request.  The law says that even though the plastic DVDs were admitted as exhibits to the child advocacy worker’s testimony, since they were not played into evidence during trial, the contents of the DVDs were not evidence in the trial.  The law says that the failure of the bailiff to notify the defendant of her rolling a tv and dvd player into the jury room to watch the non-evidence amounts to giving the jury extraneous information.  Judge Monte Watkins and his staff will agree that in theory and reality these are the laws, but when it comes to Tim Guilfoy’s case, they clam up and rebuff any attempts to reveal that they did not follow any of these laws in good faith in Tim’s case, but with the intent to help the State convict him no matter what.

Even though Tim has had a completely clean record and a substantial history of charity and service, as well as a courtroom full of supporters at the motion for a new trial and the sentencing hearing, the judge sentenced him to seventy years and six months (70.5 years), which is close to the maximum possible sentence of ninety-nine (99) years. Though the convictions Tim has are terrifying, he has not lost one friend or family member in his support circles.  In fact, we have all rallied around him and are not going to stop until he is free again.  We believe him not only because we know him at the most core level and have convictions of our own that he would never commit these crimes, but we also believe him because all the facts of the case bear out his innocence and not his guilt.  In no way does his status as convicted felon create a reality of these fabricated stories, especially for the people who know him through and through.  He has so much love and support from people who know him and people he has never met, all who long for justice, and that’s never going away.

Tim’s lawyers compiled an appeal that had an excellent chance of being approved.  At an oral argument for his appeal, the appellate judges agreed that Tim’s trial was seriously flawed, both in the inefficacy of his lawyer and the trial court’s major errors in upholding the Rules of Evidence.   In their written Opinion dated May 13, 2013, the Appellate Court ruled that theoretical videos would indeed be erroneously admitted evidence; however, they denied Tim a new trial based on the fact that there was no report of the jury watching them in the trial record.  Since the bailiff handed the jury the DVDs and viewing equipment allegedly without notifying the judge she was doing so, and the judge would not allow a juror’s testimony or a transcript of private deliberations, we are currently subject to this new reading of law created by trial court corruption and improper judicial activism, and Tim’s life is still being withheld from him as he sits in prison, completely innocent.  (Again, from these juror interviews we know for a fact that they viewed the erroneously shown video and it was in fact their primary reason for voting guilty.)  This court identified a large error by the prosecution that reduced Tim’s sentence from seventy (70) years to forty (40) years.

As stated above, the Appellate Opinion also highlighted the inefficacy of Tim’s lawyer.  We pursued a post-conviction appeal citing Inefficient Counsel (since the Tennessee Supreme Court denied hearing our petition in early 2014), and had a hearing for it in June of 2014.  At that hearing, Tim’s trial attorney grudgingly admitted at least ten instances of oversight, and described how those actions prejudiced the jury against Tim.  We showed that Tim was convicted in Davidson County of an allegation made in another county (Montgomery), and that both the prosecution and the defense engaged in presenting triple hearsay and one instance of quadruple hearsay, which alone should have warranted a new trial.  We had eight additional issues, any one of which should have resulted in a new trial.  In August of 2014, the trial judge denied a new trial, saying that Tim did not have ineffective counsel.  His answer was only five pages long and he went into no specifics, which basically meant he didn’t even read our petition and gave us a blanket denial.

We petitioned the TN Court of Appeals to overrule this ruling.  An oral argument was held in May 2015, and in August 2015 the court denied our appeal.  In this ruling they cited error after error committed by Tim’s attorney.  They concluded that false evidence and allegations outside of the jurisdiction were improperly given to the jury IF the jury saw the videos but the record didn’t say the jury saw the videos, so therefore they didn’t.  And the jurors that were willing to say they were viewed were again completely ignored.

In November of 2015 we filed an application to be heard by the Tennesee Supreme Court. They denied a hearing in February 2016.  Our appellate lawyers concluded that based on the strength of our arguments, the State of Tennessee has decided that no matter what, they will not give a new trial to Timothy Guilfoy.  Even if God Himself told the Appellate judge to rule in Tim’s favor, the District Attorney of Davidson County is whispering in his other ear to not even dare.

After losing an extraordinary attempt at a Writ of Error Coram Nobis in 2018, Tim’s remedies in the State of Tennessee are now exhausted, even after obtaining an affidavit from the jury foreperson stating that they saw the videos(read here).   The State of TN just doesn’t want to do the right thing in Tim’s case and admit they cheated him of due process.  According to the US Constitution, you are supposed to be able to confront all evidence against you, to see everything that the jury is considering the destiny of your life with in the public courtroom, and to trust that the judge’s bailiff isn’t going to grant jury requests on her own in secret at the direction of the prosecution.  The purpose of the State appellate courts is, in theory, to ensure that convictions of crimes like Tim’s have firm legal standing.  In Tim’s case, each State appellate court that took a look at Tim’s case found that Tennessee’s own laws were broken in the course of the trial by their own actors, and Tim’s rights were compromised.  Each time, the appellate judges admitted State and trial attorney errors in his prosecutions, and then refused to correct any of these errors with overturning the verdict and giving him a fair shot at clearing his name.  The Tennessee courts have created new readings of law in order to deny Tim a new trial, which indicates that they are trying to bury a case that screams injustice.

Tim’s last shot at getting his life back rests in the Federal Habeus Corpus appeal.  We need to show that Tim’s Constitutional rights were violated and convince the federal board to fix Tennessee’s abdication of law.  The list of denials of Tim’s civil rights is long, but the Federal appeal is extremely difficult to win.  We have an influx of hope and confidence though since Chicago attorney Kathleen Zellner has agreed to represent Tim in his Federal Habeus Corpus Appeal.  Ms. Zellner has won the Ryan Ferguson appeal and is currently the appellate attorney of Steven Avery, the subject of Netflix’s recent hit show Making a Murderer.  Representation from Ms. Zellner is a vindication of Tim and we are very grateful that she chose our case out of so many deserving people in Tim’s situation–being innocent and convicted despite that fact is more prevalent than any American wants to believe.

Meanwhile, the District Attorney’s office in Montgomery County (Clarksville, TN) where Tim had other charges pending had to retire the case and dismiss the charges, meaning that the rape allegations there will never go to court.  We are currently petitioning the court to expunge them.  The main reason why the DA had to throw out these charges is that Jennifer Astle and her children no longer want to come back to court and face possible perjury charges for Jennifer Astle (check out our question page for her).  So we are mainly focused on overturning the conviction in Davidson County and preparing for retrial there if the District Attorney feels like wasting more taxpayer money.

Should Tim lose in the Federal courts, his legal pathways for judicial exoneration are closed.  The only possible ways to get the conviction overturned at that point will be a governor’s pardon, for new evidence to come forth that strongly negates the convicting testimony (i.e. the Astle children will have to come forward and admit the conspiracy), or a juror will have to come forward and admit that someone in the jury did not follow the instructions.  We will pursue all of these, but the chances of these things happening are small to say the least.   Should this Federal appeal fail, Tim will have to spend his life until 2050 in a prison in Tennessee, when he will be 67 years old.  He will have spent his life in a concrete box for a story told by a junkie grifter and her accidental sycophants.

By this point, the police and prosecutors that put him where he is know that their efforts were misplaced, that there were too many problems for the stories to have been true.   If one of them would come forward to assist in his exoneration they might redeem some of their own conscience.  By this point, we don’t care if Jennifer Astle gets punished or not, we just want our brother and son back.  Hopefully, but not likely, she or her children will realize the horrible thing they have done and that they have the power to try to fix it.  They could be heroes if they are brave enough.

The criminal justice system, with all its supposed safeguards and remedies, has seriously failed Timothy Guilfoy.  This website is about how that happened to a completely innocent law-abiding citizen.  This website is about how it could happen to anyone.  This website is also going to be the center of updates regarding Tim’s case, and Tim himself.  Our hope is that people will understand the holes that are in the law enforcement and court systems, and why it’s so easy for a person to lose their life over mere allegations.

Please share this with everyone you know, tell Tim’s story, and keep your eyes open to the stories of injustice that lay under the surface.  And help us in our fight–come to and support our fundraising events, contribute to our drives, write Tim letters and cards, and keep praying for something to happen that will bring him home to Kirkwood, MO where he belongs with his family.

Timothy Guilfoy, #499702
Northwest Correctional Complex
960 State Route 212
Tiptonville, TN 38079

Family non-attorney spokesperson
Katie Beyers
[email protected]

NEXT: Safety Net with Holes