Kody Walsh defense: Suspect was framed for murder
ROCKFORD, ILL--As Kody R. Walsh's first-degree murder trial opened Tuesday, his public defender argued that his client was an innocent “patsy” set up by a friend to take the fall for the Sept. 9, 2012, slaying of an Afton woman.
But the first witness to testify implicated Walsh.
Rockton Police Officer Matthew Janowski testified that he was among the officers who pursued a green Ford Explorer at speeds as high as 100 mph from Rockton, Ill., to Rockford, Ill., that morning.
The vehicle matched a description provided to police in connection with the slaying of Lori A. Daniels, 36, Afton. Prosecutors allege Daniels was shot in the head while a passenger in the vehicle. Her body was still belted in the front seat of the car as Walsh led police on the high-speed pursuit, Janowski testified.
When the car finally crashed in Rockford, Janowski said, he saw the man who got out pull a handgun from the waistband of his pants and open fire on Janowski and another pursuing police officer.
“Do you see him in the courtroom today?” asked Winnebago County Assistant State's Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross.
“That's him—the gentleman in the dark blazer and tie,” Janowski said, pointing at Walsh as the man who shot at him.
Walsh has pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and unlawful aggravated discharge of a firearm at the trial before Judge John Truitt.
The trial is expected to last about a week.
Police say that on Sept. 9, 2012, Walsh shot Daniels twice in the head. Both Walsh, 24, and Daniels were passengers in the vehicle of a mutual acquaintance, Ebert Davison of Beloit.
Davison was driving the vehicle on Interstate 90 after the three had visited the State Street Station bikini bar in Rockford.
They were near South Beloit, Ill., when, authorities say, Walsh shot and killed Daniels in the moving vehicle before turning the gun on Davison. Walsh also is accused of opening fire on pursuing police officers and leading police on weeklong manhunt that ended with a high-speed chase in Memphis, Tenn.
Winnebago County Assistant Public Defender Nick Zimmerman attempted to undermine Janowski's testimony by suggesting it was too dark to make a positive identification of Walsh.
Zimmerman also is asking jurors to disregard security camera video from outside Davison's Beloit home.
The video shows Walsh pistol-whipping and robbing Davison before opening fire in his direction. Walsh then drives away in the vehicle with Daniels' body in the front passenger seat. A police pursuit ensued.
Zimmerman claimed the video is nothing more than a piece of poorly acted theater that Walsh was tricked into participating in as a leading actor.
“Ebert Davison shot Lori Daniels in the head,” Zimmerman said.