Comedian Is Surprise Witness In Murder Defendant’s Re-Trial
(Memphis) A surprise witness for the defense was called in Timothy McKinney’s re-trial.
Testimony from a comedian performing at the comedy club the night off duty Memphis police officer Don Williams was shot contradicts what prosecution witnesses say happened.
McKinney is being re-tried because the court of appeals ruled lawyers in his first trial did not adequately represent him.
McKinney has said from the beginning police arrested the wrong man. His new lawyers tried to prove that today.
Comedian Lester Bibbs was performing at Crumpy’s Comedy club the night Don Williams was working security at the club and was shot.
Bibbs said he recognized McKinney because the sweater he wore that night was the subject for some of his jokes.
Defense lawyers for McKinney asked Bibbs if he say to the jury whether the man he saw outside that night was Timothy McKinney.
Bibbs said, “No, it wasn’t. I would have noticed that sweater. I would have remembered that
Bibbs said the man seen in a jail house photo shown to the jury was also thrown out of the club that night, also.
Bibbs testified that man is who he saw talking outside to officer Williams right before he heard a gunshot. Police have never questioned him.
“He was the comedian performing at the club and what he saw, I guess you would have to ask the police why 15 years later they still have not asked Lester Bibbs what he saw,” said Gerald Skahan, Defense lawyer.
Judge Lee Coffee scolded defense lawyers for waiting until trial to introduce Bibbs’ statement.
He accused them of causing an unnecessary delay. Prosecutors took two hours to review statements Bibbs had previously given to private investigators.
Officer Williams’ family agreed the delay could have been avoided.
They’re having to relive the 1997 shooting through this second trial.
“The family is of the opinion that this could have been dealt with a lot differently and apparently the judge felt that way too,” said Vince Higgins, Shelby Co. District Attorney spokesperson.
The law allows for the defense to call surprise witnesses and then submit their statements to prosecutors.
The judge said that law needs to be changed.
“This is a witness that was there that night. He’s been available all these years. He could be found. We found him and brought him to the court so the jury could see the truth, said Marty McAfee, defense lawyer.
The jury is sequestered and is expected to work Saturday.