Daughter Was Suspected In McGill Murder; Now Cleared, Her Lawyer - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Daughter Was Suspected In McGill Murder; Now Cleared, Her Lawyer Fights Back

SPOKANE, Wash – Nearly 200 pages of newly-unsealed search warrant affidavits show Spokane Police believed Sharlotte McGill's own daughter, Billie McKinney, may have been behind her May murder. 

McKinney was among the first to call 9-1-1 from her mother's side in the moments before McGill died of stab wounds May 3rd outside her Spokane apartment. 

But these documents McKinney was the sole beneficiary of a $750,000 life insurance policy, and police say she was shopping online for "cars and other items" after the murder, but that the money wouldn't be released until she was cleared as a suspect. 

Also in their search warrant affidavits, police chronicle what they call "inappropriate" behavior on McKinney's part; just hours after the murder of her mother, police say she "was reported to have acted in a relieved or giddy mood."  They say she later showed "a lack of emotion" and made several calls to claim the insurance money. 

They write that McKinney had 6 separate lie detector tests scheduled, but either failed to show up, rescheduled them, or said she was too emotional to take one.  She never completed one. 

In June, when investigators searched the laptop used both by McGill and McKinney, they report, "a search of the hard drive revealed all data had been deleted from the hard drive approximately two weeks before and after the murder."     

Also during that search of McKinney's new home in Spokane, police seized a knife similar in size to the stab wounds found on her mother, as well as phones, marijuana and a hand-written "to do" list noting an Internet search for "blood stains." 

Also in the documents, police believed there might have been communication between McKinney and Steven Lewis, the boyfriend of Avondre Graham's mother.  Lewis was an original suspect in the case.  But we know now, 17-year-old Avondre Graham has been charged with McGill's murder, and according to court documents, confessed to the killing because McGill was making fun of his music and called him a racial slur. 

Graham has also been charged with the assault of two other women in the Spokane area dating back to August. 

Billie McKinney was never charged with any crime, and her lawyer says police told him she's been cleared as a suspect, but is very upset to have been considered in the first place.  

Billie McKinney's lawyer, Jeffry Finer, released this statement to KHQ Wednesday:

"Ms. McKinney is grateful that local law enforcement gave her mother's murder its full attention. A suspect is now in custody for the murder of Sharlotte McGill. As of last week law enforcement advised me that Billie McKinney has been cleared of any involvement.

Ms. McKinney understands that law enforcement must pursue a murder aggressively. She understands that an investigation must go where the evidence leads, and that investigators must be persistent.

While the law permits investigators to mislead suspects, to create ruses and to lie to suspects, the law does not permit misrepresentations to judges in official documents. The contents of this affidavit contain several serious misstatements.

These errors may have been accidental. Sometimes in the pressure of an investigation good work stumbles. Even experienced investigators, trying to go by the book, can make mistakes.

But the errors in the affidavit are unsettling, appear deliberate, and have no legal justification. In the coming days I will demand a formal explanation from the authorities.

In the meantime, Ms. McKinney asks that her family and friends, and the community of Spokane, understand that she is bereaved, that she grieves the loss of her mother deeply, and for her the pain is undiminished."

 

Avondre Graham's murder trial is expected to begin in mid-November.

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