Was Janesville homicide a case of self defense?

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Frank Schultz
Friday, September 22, 2017

JANESVILLE -- What was billed as Janesville's first murder case in three years might turn out to be something else.

Barquis D. McKnight's lawyer said Thursday the evidence is more consistent with a struggle for a gun than an intentional shooting of one person by another.

McKnight, 33, faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon in the shooting death of Eddie L. Jones, 28, of Markham, Illinois.

The shooting took place behind the house at 116 S. Franklin St. around midnight May 27, police have said.

Attorney Michael Murphy has filed a motion asking Judge James Daley to allow Murphy to argue that McKnight was defending himself and others when the shooting happened.

Murphy commented Thursday after the case took an odd turn during a Rock County Court hearing.

With the trial scheduled to start Monday, Murphy told Daley he wasn't prepared because his father had a stroke in August, and he has been away from work.

In addition, DNA evidence has not yet been processed, and a witness from the state crime lab would not be available to testify until December, said Assistant District Attorney Gwanny Tjoa.

McKnight, speaking for himself, nevertheless insisted on going to trial Monday. He had earlier claimed his right to a speedy trial.

Daley told McKnight the DNA evidence has the potential to help McKnight's case. McKnight agreed but insisted on going to trial Monday.

McKnight complained that he has been in jail for four months: “Basically I'm just wasting time, now.”

“The reality of it is, I'm an innocent man,” McKnight said later in the hearing.

But Murphy said his uncle's funeral is set for Monday in Denver, so if McKnight wants to got to trial, he must do so without Murphy.

Daley said he did not want to try the case without a defense attorney, so he said his only option was to dismiss the case to restart the process.

Daley dismissed the case but ordered McKnight held at the jail until the district attorney's office files a new criminal complaint with the expectation McKnight's initial court appearance would be Friday.

Murphy said after the hearing he has been working on a plea agreement with the prosecution. He called the prosecution's case weak and said the only prosecution witness is of “dubious credibility.”

McKnight is likely to get a better result from a plea agreement than at trial, Murphy said.

Plea agreements sometimes include reduced charges or a recommendation for a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

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