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Mother, girlfriend of Gainesville killer testify

GAINESVILLE, Fla. March 15 -- Danny Harold Rolling's mother, former girlfriend and lawyer said at the sentencing hearing that the confessed Gainesville student murderer was strongly influenced by his father.

They testified Rolling was the victim of abuse as a child and that his father tried to prevent him from getting help as an adult.

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Claudia Rolling, Lillian Mills and Mississippi attorney Arthur Carlisle testified on behalf of Rolling, who has pleaded guilty to the five Gainesville student murders in August 1990. A jury of nine women and three men is deciding whether to recommend the death sentence or life for the 39-year-old Louisiana drifter.

The defense is trying to show Rolling is mentally ill and that a death sentence would be inappropriate.

Claudia Rolling conceded that, while her husband abused their son, much of the abuse was mental rather than physical.

Asked under cross examination why she did not divorce, she said she was always worried that if she did, her husband would 'off the deep end.'

Mills, one of Danny Rolling's former girl friends, said she had made an appointment for him with a psychologist and told Claudia Rolling about it.

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She said he refused to go and told her: 'if my dad finds out what I said, he'll kill me.'

Carlisle, who had represented Rolling in a case in Mississippi in 1985, said he called Rolling's father, James Harold Rolling, to ask for help.

He said James Rolling shouted at him, said he didn't want his help and that he should not be helping his son.

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