Timothy McKinney’s third capital trial began last week in Shelby County for the 1997 murder of Donald Williams, an off-duty Memphis police officer. The jury began deliberation yesterday and moments ago they came back and told the court that they were deadlocked. The judge has declared a mistrial.
The same thing happened at McKinney’s second trial exactly one year ago. Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee declared a mistrial after jurors said they could not reach a unanimous decision. Their final vote was 11-1 for guilty of first degree murder.
In 2010, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals granted McKinney a new trial after determining that his representation at trial created “cumulative prejudice of such magnitude” that his right to a fair proceeding was prejudiced. The court stated, “there is reasonable probability that, absent their deficiencies, the outcome of both the guilt phase and the sentencing phase of the trial would have been different. The nature and extent of counsel’s deficiencies rendered the entire proceeding fundamentally unfair.”
McKinney has remained in jail without bond for the past year awaiting this third trial. It is unclear whether the state will seek a fourth trial.
For more background on this troubling case, check out this great article that recently appeared in The Nation.
(photo of Timothy McKinney (right) and defense attorney Gerald Skahan (left) by The Commercial Appeal‘s Alan Spearman)
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