8/7/2017 2:18:00 PM Man guilty of all charges in cop-shooting case
Karen Adams, a Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department correctional officer, wheels Keith D. “Skinny” McKinney into court Thursday, just prior to the verdict being read in his trial. McKinney was found guilty of all three charges levied against him, including attempted murder. He will be sentenced at 10 a.m. on Oct. 6 in Lawrence County Circuit Court. (Daily News photo)
By BILL RICHARDSON Daily News
Keith D. "Skinny" McKinney opted not to testify in his own defense on Thursday, a decision he may now regret.
McKinney, 56, Lawrenceville, was later in the day convicted by a jury of eight women and four men of attempted first degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a felon, all felonies. A fourth charge, aggravated battery, was dropped by the prosecution earlier in the day.
The charges stemmed from an incident on Feb. 22, 2016, during which McKinney shot Lawrence County Sheriff's Department Deputy Kyle Gilmore, as Gilmore was attempting to execute a traffic stop on McKinney.
Gilmore returned fire on McKinney during the altercation, striking McKinney in the legs.
Sentencing has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Oct. 6, in Lawrence County Circuit Court. According to McKinney's attorney, David Benny of Newton, McKinney is looking at a prison term of 26 years to life on the attempted murder charge.
Reportedly, at one point during the case the prosecution offered McKinney at 15-year prison term, which he rejected.
The verdict concluded four days of jury selection, opening arguments, testimony and closing arguments.
After the trial dragged through jury selection and the first two days of testimony, things happened quickly on Thursday.
The jury retired to the deliberation room at 2:28 p.m. At 3:35 p.m., it asked to see evidence, including the gun holster that held the .22-caliber pistol that McKinney used to shoot Gilmore.
At 4:25 p.m., the jury notified Lawrence Circuit Judge Robert Hopkins that a verdict had been reached. McKinney was returned to the court room from the Lawrence County Jail at 4:34 p.m. and the verdicts were read at 4:42 p.m.
Gilmore, sitting in the front row with family members when the verdicts were announced, appeared to be relieved at the outcome. He respectfully and politely declined to comment prior to leaving the courtroom.
Matthew Goetten, a special prosecutor at the Illinois Office of State's Attorneys who prosecuted the case, said he was "pleased" with the jury's decisions. He otherwise refused to comment after winning the case, saying he'd have a "full statement" at the time of sentencing.
Benny said the decision not to testify was strictly up to McKinney. Defendants are not required to testify on their own behalf.
He said the Oct. 6 sentencing will be "a formality."
"At (McKinney's) age and condition he's never going to get out of prison, unless an appellate court overturns it," Benny said.
Benny said he wasn't necessarily surprised with the verdict. However, he was surprised that it was reached after less than two hours of deliberating.
Benny doesn't do appellate work, but said it's likely that a notice of appeal will be filed with the appellate defender's office.
"They'll pursue any grounds that they think they have for appeal," he said.
While praising Hopkins for doing "a phenomenal job," Benny, raised numerous objections throughout the trial.
Thursday started when Goetten called his final witness, Lawrence County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Feutz, who was a corrections officer at the jail at that time. Feutz testified that he was in the ambulance with McKinney on the way to Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, and that he kept his eyes on McKinney while he was in the trauma room.
Feutz claimed to have overheard McKinny implicate himself when speaking to a doctor in the emergency room.
After Feutz was cross-examined by Benny, Goetten rested his case, then dropped the aggravated battery charge against McKinney.
Claire Bird, a next-door neighbor to McKinney, took the witness stand at 10:30 a.m. and proved to be the only witness Benny would call. Bird said she'd been a neighbor to McKinney for 34 years.
Bird was suffering from a bronchial infection the day the shooting took place, but said she heard shots fired while being sick in bed.
She testified that on occasion prior to the day of the shooting she could see Gilmore, who at the time lived in a house nearby, staring out of his window and into McKinney's home. The implication was Gilmore had a personal vendetta against McKinney.
"You like Skinny McKinney, don't you?" Goetten asked Bird on cross-examination.
"You bet you I do," she replied.
After a lengthy lunch break, Benny rested his case at 1:30 p.m., when court returned to session.
Both attorneys then delivered closing arguments - lasting a total of about 30 minutes - before the trial wrapped up about 2 p.m.
Hopkins gave lengthy instructions to the jurors, who made their way to the deliberation room at 2:28 p.m.
The shooting incident occurred about 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2016. Gilmore saw McKinney driving in Lawrenceville and thought him to be driving illegally. Gilmore turned his unmarked squad truck around and followed Gilmore to his residence on Washington Avenue, where the shootings took place.
McKinney's first shot with the .22 hit Gilmore in the chest. However, the deputy was wearing a bullet-proof vest, which is believed to have saved his life.