Tim McKinney Case: 15 Years to Freedom

Learn how Tim McKinney went from sitting on Tennessee’s death row to be a free man within 15 years. Tim McKinney spent a total of 15 years on Tennessee’s death row. He was officially walked out of the Shelby County Jail in March of 2013.

Lee Wengraf, an active activist, fought night and day to give McKinney his freedom back. He finally did after many long days and nights of fighting for his rights.

How Did McKinney End Up in Court Again?

McKinney shot officer Williams during an altercation outside of the popular Crumpy’s Comedy Club back in December of 1997. During the early morning hours, McKinney was escorted out of the club and he could not find his vehicle. McKinney thought his car was stolen, which irritated him and that’s when he became involved in an altercation outside of Crumpy’s Comedy Club when he started threatening various custodians.

Officer Williams went to approach McKinney and kindly ask him to leave the premise or he would be under arrest. This is when allegedly McKinney stated something to the effect that he just got out of jail and jail does not mean anything to him.

Tim McKinney Case

When the jurors deliberated McKinney’s case it only took them nearly 2 and a half hours to find McKinney guilty of the December 1997 first-degree murder of Don Williams, a police officer just outside of Memphis Tennessee Comedy Club.

At the time McKinney was on parole for a prior aggravated robbery conviction during the time this murder happened. He was going to face getting the death penalty if he was convicted for this first-degree murder charge.

Ultimately, McKinney was found guilty of the first-degree murder charge along with attempted murder in the second degree of yet another police officer, Frank Lee, who a prosecutor witness and testified against McKinney.

When the sentencing portion of the trial began, McKinney was going to face three potential sentences for the charge of murder in the first degree. The first sentence could have been life in prison with chance parole after serving 51 years, life in prison with no chance of parole, or the death penalty.

With the added charge of attempted murder in the second degree, McKinney was also facing another 6 to 12-year sentence in prison as well on top of what he would get for the first-degree murder charge.

McKinney’s defense team was lacking, to say the least. McKinney’s defense team rested their case without calling any witnesses to the witness stand. McKinney’s defense team did not even put McKinney on the stand to testify.

The only thing the defense team did was call up various family members along with a witness and a professional psychologist that went over McKinney’s school records.

While the prosecution team introduced an amazing victim impact testimony directly from the Williams’ family along with calling a witness to the stand to testify on McKinney’s prior criminal record.

The prosecution team stated that when officer Williams came along that McKinney wanted to try and get back into the nightclub, but officer Lee and officer Williams were persistent on their attempts. This is when McKinney would falsely accuse officer Williams of throwing his fist at him. Then McKinney allegedly left the club yet again, but then returned long enough to shoot at a point-blank range officer Williams from behind.

During the prosecutors closing arguments, Jerry Harris stated that this killing was of a coward and in the result, McKinney was just out for revenge. McKinney’s need for revenge prompted him to return to the Crumpy’s Comedy Club three times after the first confrontation with Williams to finally shoot and kill him.

Tennessee Death Row & Release

Timothy McKinney sat on the Tennessee death row for the next 15 years. He was finally released in March of 2013.

During the time he was sitting on death row, he would have two more trials that would result in hung juries. Instead of going for a fourth trial, the prosecutors came to an agreement that would credit McKinney for the time he already served for a lesser sentence to second-degree murder.

This plea is not an Alford Plea, where the defendant (in this case would be McKinney) does not admit or even proclaims his innocence. Under the Alford Plea, the defendant would have to admit with satisfactory evidence where the judge or jury can be convinced that without a doubt the defendant is guilty.

Related Posts