Testimony begins in second VanTilburg trial

Testimony began Tuesday in the murder trial of former Bartlett firefighter Charles VanTilburg. A second trial was ordered after an appeals court overruled a 2002 guilty verdict against him.  VabTilburg is accused in the shooting death of fellow firefighter Toby Gibson in 2000.

VanTilburg admitted to shooting Gibson in the back of the head, but in opening statements, his attorney, Leslie Ballin, told jurors it was an accident.

"It was an argument between two friends," Ballin said. "This argument resulted in the gun accidentally and unintentionally being discharged."

Fellow firefighters and investigators told jurors about Gibson's disappearance. His mother, Terry Tibbs, described an exchange she had with VanTilburg.

"Mr. VanTilburg said Toby did have a pistol when he saw him the day before," she said, "and I said Toby didn't have a pistol."
Prosecutors said that was one of the stories VanTilburg told in the days after the shooting in an elaborate cover-up attempt.  Ballin countered to the jury that his client simply panicked.

The original "guilty" verdict against VanTilburg was overturned on a technicality, after an appeals court ruled that the judge failed to properly define the term "knowingly" to the jury.

The jury in the new trial has been sequestered.