(Memphis) Negotiations started after a second jury deadlocked last month and couldn't decide whether Timothy McKinney was guilty of murdering police officer Don Williams in 1997.
Tuesday, McKinney plead guilty to second degree murder with a sentence of 15 years.
Since he's been in jail almost 16 years, he was immediately eligible for release on time served.
His brother said it's time.
"Just glad it's over with. He is a free man coming home. Glad it's over with. Fifteen years is a long time," says Travis McKinney.
The family of police Officer Don Williams did not agree to the plea, saying in a statement,
"While we understand the situation and the D.A.'s decision, our family resolved early on to stay the course; to prosecute Mr. McKinney to the fullest extent of the law. Though Mr. McKinney pled guilty to second degree murder, we are disappointed at this outcome."
"In looking at the ramifications of a not guilty verdict or a dismissal based on a lack of being able to achieve a verdict, we think this is the best for all our clients," says Prosecutor Tom Henderson who is with the District Attorney's Office.
McKinney's attorney, Gerald Skahan, says after three trials it was clear proving the case against his client was hard.
The shooting happened in 1997 as Officer Williams worked security outside a comedy club.
Since then, a key witness had died and Skahan says memories of exactly what happened that night have started to fade.
"I think we have gotten to a point in the trial where I don't think factually a jury is going to be able to decide the fate of Mr. McKinney. The options are to continue this case and spend a lot of taxpayers money or to work out a settlement," says Skahan.
Tuesday evening, McKinney was awaiting final paperwork from the state so he could be released.
“The defendant Timothy McKinney was tried and convicted of the first degree murder of officer Don Williams in 1998. In 2010 the Court of Criminal Appeals granted post conviction relief, overturned the conviction, and remanded the case for a new trial.
In April 2012, fourteen years after Don Williams was murdered, the retrial resulted in a hung
jury. In 2013 the case was tried for the third time also resulting in a hung jury. During the
period of time between the initial trial and the retrials, many of the State’s witnesses, including the State’s key witness Officer Frank Lee, passed away. After a great deal of consideration, I decided to accept the guilty plea of the defendant to second degree murder and criminal attempt second degree murder,” said Amy Weirich, Shelby County District Attorney General