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home : local news : local news August 20, 2017

8/3/2017 10:56:00 AM
Jury being selected for area cop-shooting trial
Daily News

Before Keith D. "Skinny" McKinney can be put on trial, it's essential a jury be found.

That proved fairly difficult Monday, as only eight jurors - with a potential for three more - were seated by the time the first day of selections closed down shortly after 2 p.m.

In all, 35 potential jurors were questioned, with 24 of them being turned away for one reason or another. A pool of 25 prospective jurors was expected to be in the courtroom early today and at least one will be on the 12-member jury with more to serve as alternates.

McKinney, 56, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

Part of the problem Monday was that many potential jurors were no-shows. According to Lawrence County Circuit Court Clerk Peggy Frederick, 60 potential jurors were supposed to appear. Originally, Frederick said, there was a pool of 125 jurors for the case, but many have left the area.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 22, 2016, when McKinney allegedly fired a .22-caliber handgun during a traffic stop in the 1300 block of Washington Street, hitting Lawrence County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Gilmore in the chest.

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Gilmore was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time and was not seriously injured.

Gilmore returned fire, striking McKinney in the leg. McKinney was first housed in the Jefferson County Jail in Mount Vernon, which has a medical facility. He has since been returned to Lawrence County Jail, where he has awaited trial.

Apparently still slowed by the leg injury, McKinney was wheeled into Monday's proceedings by Lawrence County Sheriff's Department personnel. With long flowing dark hair - mixed with stands of gray - and a beard to match, McKinney was neatly clad in a white dress shirt, tan slacks and socks and brown loafers.

McKinney is represented in the case by Jasper County attorney David Benney. Benney, who is blind, is being assisted by his office manager, Ken Schanda, Olney. Originally, McKinney was represented in the case by Lawrenceville attorney Daniel Shinkle.

The state's case is being presented by Matthew Goetten, a special prosecutor at the Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys. According to Lawrence County State's Attorney Michael M. Strange, former Lawrence County State's Attorney Chris Quick had the appellate prosecutors office appointed to the case prior to Strange taking over the office in January.

Dozens of potential witnesses were listed as the attempt was being made on Monday to seat jurors.

Among the potential witness are Gilmore and Lawrence County Deputy Jordan Feutz, along with Lawrenceville Police Department officer Brandon Sapp. A number of Illinois State Police Department members, including local investigator Steve Hulen are on the witness list, as well as at least one medical doctor, Lawrence County Ambulance Service personnel and residents of the Washington Street neighborhood where the shootings took place.

McKinney is expected to take the stand in his own defense.

While Goetten politely declined to comment on the case, Benney stressed his belief in McKinney's innocence.

"I've believed in his innocence all along," said Benny, who is trying a case in Lawrence County for the first time. "He's presumed innocent. I think he'll be vindicated by the end of this case."

Opening statements, first by the defense and then by the state, were expected to take place at 1 p.m. today. Benney's "ballpark guess" is that the case will go to the jury some time on Friday.

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