8/4/2017 11:01:00 AM Testimony continues in attempted-murder trial
By BILL RICHARDSON Daily News
Eyewitness Keith Larson is adamant that he saw Keith D. "Skinny" McKinney fire a weapon at Lawrence County Sheriff's Department Deputy Kyle Gilmore on Feb. 22, 2016.
So Larson testified Wednesday in Lawrence County Circuit Court in the trial of McKinney, who is charged with four felonies, including attempted murder.
Despite repeated attempts from Newton defense attorney David Benny to trip him up, Larson refused to back down from his testimony.
"From my view, it was a shootout," said Larson, who lives at 1314 Washington Ave., which he says is "catty-corner" from where McKinney lived.
Gilmore was wearing a bulletproof vest that day, which protected him from more serious injury.
The incident took place about 4:30 p.m., when Gilmore attempted to perform a traffic stop on McKinney, who was alleged to be driving illegally.
Larson testified that he was in his recliner watching television at the time, but said he had a "good view" of the street through a window.
While he says he doesn't know either McKinney or Gilmore, when he saw the sheriff's department vehicle following McKinney into the driveway he "knew it wasn't going to be good."
After watching McKinney produce paperwork - which turned out to be an Indiana driver's license - Larson said he took three steps into his kitchen to check on his dinner.
At that point, Larson "heard a shot" and quickly returned to the kitchen. Later, he said, he saw McKinney shoot again, and watched Gilmore return fire. He estimated that he was 50 to 75 feet away from the shootings.
Larson counted "seven total shots."
Benny attempted to discredit the witness on numerous occasions, to no apparent avail.
"You never saw a pistol in McKinney's hands, did you," Benny asked.
Larson said he didn't see the actual shot being fired because his line of vision was blocked.
"I just saw him pointing, in a shooting stance," he said.
Earlier on the second day of testimony, Gilmore was asked by Matthew Goetten, a special prosecutor at the Illinois Office of State's Attorneys, finished questioning Gilmore.
"Is there any doubt in your mind that Skinny McKinney shot you on Feb. 22 (2016)?" he asked.
"No," replied the 33-year-old Gilmore.
Gilmore added that he shot McKinney in the legs to "subdue him and not to have to kill him."
After a one-hour lunch break, Lawrenceville Police Department officer Brandon Sapp took the stand to face questioning from both attorneys.
Sapp was on duty for the LPD that day and assumed control of the crime scene upon his arrival. He testified he didn't know immediately Gilmore had been shot.
"But I could tell by his demeanor that something wasn't right - that something was wrong," he explained.
Sapp said he tried to keep distance between McKinney and Gilmore, but at one point the two were within easy earshot of each other.
At one point, according to Sapp, McKinney said, "I'm sorry, Kyle."
Sapp confirmed what had been testified to eariler, that Gilmore responded common, two-word expletive phrase directed at McKinney.
Benny worked hard throughout the day to discredit law enforcement and continually pointed out flaws in protocol.
Both Gilmore and Sapp testified that Gilmore had picked up the .22-caliber pistol McKinney is alleged to have used from the ground. He apparently intended to place the weapon in his squad truck but returned it to the ground at Sapp's request.
Later in the day, Benny asked that Lawrence Circuit Court Judge Robert Hopkins not allow the handgun into evidence.
Benny's reasoning was that the two officers admitted in open court that the gun had been "mishandled."
Hopkins overruled the objection, and the .22 was admitted.
Benny was curious as to why Gilmore didn't utilize his dashboard camera during the incident. He noted that Gilmore did not turn on his lights and sireen, which would have automatically turned the camera on. He also could have turned the camera on manually, but chose not to.
Gilmore first responded that the memory card was full. Later, he described LCSD's dashboard cameras as "junk," adding it probably would not have worked anyway.
Benny pressed Sapp hard, asking why he allowed Gilmore to take his .40-caliber handgun with him for treatment to Lawrence County Memorial Hospital.
Sapp responded that at that time, not enough armed law enforcement had arrived at the scene to have one of them serve as Gilmore's escort.
Considering he'd just been shot, Sapp said, he didn't think Gilmore would feel comfortable without some kind of protection.
"We didn't have the luxury," Sapp testified.
Asked by Benny if mistakes had been made, Sapp responded by saying, "Yes, sir. We're human."
Also during Sapp's testimony, radio traffic from the incident was played for the jury. The jury also saw footage from Sapp's dash camera, which was operational at the time.
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Sgt. Abigail Henn, a crime scene investigator for the Illinois State Police Department, was the day's only other witness.
She testified that she was notified about the shooting at 4:40 p.m. on the day of the incident, and that she arrived in Lawrenceville about 6:30 p.m.
Sixteen photographs she took that day, of the crime scene, bullets, casings and more were admitted into evidence.
Benny successfully kept a large diagram of the crime scene, which was not to scale, out of evidence. Just before the jury - which consists of eight women and four men with two female alternates - was dismissed for the day, Hopkins ruled the diagram inadmissible because the person responsible for making it had not testified.
Testimony was scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. today. At least one more of McKinney's neighbors was expected to be called by the prosecution and other law enforcement members or EMS personnel may also testify.
McKinney, 56, has pled not guilty to all charges that stem from the incident. Along with attempted murder, he's also charged with aggravated battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.
According Benny, McKinney spent two months in a hospital recovering from injuries suffered in the incident. He was initially being held in Jefferson County Jail in Mount Vernon, which has a medical facility. He has been kept in the Lawrence County Jail since then.