Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 31, 2007

Murder trial set to end today

Prosecutor questions self-defense claim

By MIKE FLETCHER

Testimony in day two of the murder trial against Willie Winston in Howard Circuit Court focused on the three statements he gave to police after the Jan. 27, 2006, shooting near White Castle and Staples.

Winston, 60, is on trial on charges of murder, possession of an altered handgun, criminal recklessness and carrying a handgun without a permit stemming from the shooting death of 24-year-old DeMarco Moore.

Capt. Greg Davis and Detective Mike Banush of the Kokomo Police Department testified Wednesday that Winston initially told police he did not have a gun and that DeMarco Moore fired at him once that afternoon near the busy intersection of U.S. 31 and Markland Avenue.

In his final statement, which was played for jurors Tuesday, Winston admitted to shooting at Moore twice, but contended Moore shot at him first.

During that interview, Winston said he and his girlfriend, Lil McKinnie, 56, and his son, Tyrone Winston, were traveling in a Lincoln Continental in front of Wal-Mart when they saw Moore, who had threatened Tyrone before, in the Jeep pointing a gun at them on Markland Avenue.

Instead of leaving the area once Moore displayed a gun, Willie Winston told police he told McKinnie, who was driving, to pull into White Castle to get a sandwich.

After the shooting, Willie Winston said the trio went to Rural King to go shopping.

“Have you ever had anybody involved in a shooting go shopping afterwards?” Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Peelle asked Davis.

“No, no I haven’t,” Davis said.

Testimony was also entered that said police recovered Moore’s gun, a 9-mm semiautomatic at the hospital, but no shell casings were found at the scene and the gun was fully loaded.

In backing up Winston’s self-defense theory, defense attorney Brent Dechert asked each officer to place themselves in Willie Winston’s situation.

“As an officer and as a citizen, do you have to wait for someone to shoot at you if you believe your life or someone else’s life is in danger?” Dechert asked Banush.

“No,” Banush replied.

Peelle fired back at Willie Winston’s statement showing he had every opportunity to leave the area if he felt his life was in danger, but elected to remain in the area.

Peelle then rested the state’s case.

Dechert began by calling Officer Larkin Fourkiller and Officer Jim Calabro to testify that the Winstons had called police on other occasions stating that Moore had threatened Tyrone prior to the Jan. 27, 2006, shooting.

Both officers said they investigated the claims, but said Tyrone Winston said he did not wish to press charges against Moore.

Tyrone Winston, who was is custody on an unrelated case, then took the stand and said police lied and that he did want to pursue charges, but police refused.

Tyrone said Moore threatened him several times and pointed a gun at him once because Moore thought Tyrone had robbed him of drugs and because Tyrone was talking to Moore’s girlfriend. Tyrone claims police told him to go to the prosecutor’s office and file a complaint if he wanted to press the case.

Both officers said they attempted to find Moore during those calls, but never was able to find him. No charges were ever filed against Moore, Dechert pointed out.

Tyrone backed up his father’s account of the shooting. He claims his dad first fired a warning shot at Moore when Moore kept walking toward them waving a gun in the air.

When Moore kept coming, Tyrone said his father shot at him a second time.

When asked by Peelle why he didn’t call police after he claims Moore shot at them, Tyrone said his phone was running out of minutes and he was nervous.

Roger Boothby, the final witness of the day, testified that Moore came to him prior to the shooting wanting to get a gun because Tyrone Winston had robbed him.

Dechert is expected to wrap up the defense today.

Mike Fletcher may be reached at (765) 454-8565 or via e-mail at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com