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home : local news : local news August 20, 2017

8/3/2017 10:59:00 AM
Defense: Deputy's shooting was part of 'feud'
Lawrence County Sheriff's Department deputy Kyle Gilmore took the witness stand in Lawrence Circuit Court Tuesday and accused Keith D. "Skinny" McKinney of shooting him in the chest Feb. 22, 2016.

McKinney, 56, has pleaded not guilty to all charges that stem from the incident, including attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

Tuesday's session in front of Judge Robert Hopkins ended about 3:10 p.m., before defense Attorney David Benny could begin cross examination of Gilmore. That was expected to happen when court resumed at 8:30 a.m. today.

The state is being represented in the case by Matthew Goetten, a special prosecutor at the Illinois Office of State's Attorneys.

During opening arguments, Benny again expressed his belief that McKinney is innocent of all charges. He told the jury of eight women and four men, plus two female alternates, that the situation was the result of a feud between Gilmore and McKinney, who are neighbors.

"This was not an arrest," Benny said during opening arguments. "This was personal."

Later, Benny characterized the state's case as being "unbelievable and untrue."

He added that because of injuries suffered in the shooting, McKinney will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. McKinney spent two months in a hospital recovering, according to the attorney.

The incident took place about 4:30 p.m. in the 1300 block of Lawrenceville's Washington Avenue, in the front yard of McKinney's home. According to testimony, Gilmore, who believed McKinney to be driving illegally that afternoon, followed McKinney home from a doctor's appointment in an unmarked sheriff's department vehicle.

Gilmore testified that McKinney resisted arrest and that he tried to take McKinney to the ground. At some point, Gilmore said, he heard "a loud pop" and felt pain in his groin area. He said he saw McKinney "with a gun" as he fell backward in pain.

Gilmore was wearing a bullet-proof vest that day, which, according to Goetten, saved his life. The bullet-proof vest was among three items entered into evidence by Goetten on Tuesday.

Because he was wearing the vest, Gilmore's injuries were not life-threatening. He was treated and released from Lawrence County Memorial Hospital.

Testimony indicates that Gilmore shot at least twice into McKinney's legs. After being hit once, Gilmore said, McKinney later fired at least one more "wild shot" before being subdued.

The prosecution will argue that the weapon McKinney used in the shooting was a 22-caliber Derringer. However, Benny said in his opening statement, the handgun did not have McKinney's fingerprints on it. Further more, he said, evidence will shot that the bullet extracted from the vest Gilmore was wearing could not have been fired from the alleged weapon.

Hopkins issued his instructions to the jury shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Tuesday's morning session was used to complete the jury, a task that could not be accomplished on Monday.

Goetten was first to give his opening statement, which lasted four minutes. Benny followed with a 12-minute opening statement to the jury.

Testimony began at 1:36 p.m. with Gilmore, who turned out to be the only witness of the day, taking the stand.

While testifying, Gilmore said that after the shooting was over and the men were being treated, McKinney offered an apology.

Gilmore verbally responded by uttering a common, two-word expletive phrase.

"I couldn't understand why he would want to apologize to me after he'd attempted to take my life," the deputy told the jury.

Lawrenceville Police Department officer Brandon Sapp, who arrived as Gilmore's backup, is expected to testify today. While there is no video footage of the actual confrontation, footage from Sapp's dashboard camera could provide pertinent information.

Keith Larson, a neighbor of McKinney, is also expected to provide testimony. According to the opening statements, Larson did not see the actual shootings, but was a witness to what happened afterward.

Outside of the presence of the jury on Tuesday, audio recordings of police traffic while the incident was going on were played. It expected that the recordings will be played for the jury at some point later on.

The jurors and alternates were dismissed from the courtroom about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, only after being warned by Hopkins not to research the case in their down time and not to discuss the case with anyone.

On Monday, Benny said he expected the trial to go to the jury at some point on Friday.





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