A new trial began Tuesday for the man on death row for killing a Memphis police officer and the murdered officer's wife and former partner took the stand.
(WMC-TV) – A new trial began Tuesday for the man on death row for killing a Memphis police officer and the murdered officer's wife and former partner took the stand.
A defense team out of New York played a huge part in winning the retrial for a man who has been sitting on death row for 15 years.
The retrial is Tim McKinney's second chance at life.
Jurors listened as prosecutors recounted the night after Christmas outside Crumpy's Comedy Club in 1997 when Memphis police officer Don Williams was murdered.
Sharon Williams, the wife of officer Williams, described how her husband's health declined as he fought for his life nearly a month after the shooting.
"The organs began to fail and he simply declined from that point," she said.
Frank Lee took the stand next.
A retired police officer, his eyewitness testimony in the first trial was key to McKinney's conviction.
Lee described McKinney's behavior as erratic that night when he thought someone had stolen his car.
"He was upset and kept saying that if he didn't get his car he was going to shoot up the club and blow it up," Lee said.
McKinney's defense argued that Lee's statements are inconsistent, saying at one point the shooter wore a black hat then saying the hat was white.
However, Lee dismisses their claims that his statements ever changed. He became emotional as he recounted his proximity to officer Williams when that fatal shot rang out.
"When he shot Don, the blood jumped in my face and that's when I looked down and he looked at me and I looked at him right in the eye," said Lee.
Club photos and items of clothing McKinney wore that night were entered into evidence.
"How certain are you that that man over there is the shooter," a defense attorney asked Lee.
"I'm completely (certain)," he replied.
The goddaughter and niece of the slain officer was a senior in high school when she learned that her uncle had been killed.
"We thought we got closure 15 years ago and just to listen to the testimony and evidence is hard in itself," said Demeettree Tyler-Williams. "This came out of nowhere for us. So we're just trying to heal, be supportive, relive testimony and hopefully this will all be over and we'll have justice."
Justice is exactly what defense attorney Gerald Skahan says he's seeking too.
"This didn't come back because someone forgot to fill out a form or cross a ‘T,'" he said. "This came back because a group of judges felt Mr. McKinney didn't have a fair trial."
Williams' fraternity brother John Greene says since the murder Omega Psi Phi has vowed to keep Williams' legacy alive.
"We have an annual golf tournament and the proceeds go to help provide educational opportunities for his children," said Greene.
Greene says a life for a life will not bring their friend, father and brother back, but the family believes that in the end justice will prevail.
"We understand the part about the retrial because that's the American way, but we do think that justice will be done again and it is our hope that he will go back on death row," he said.