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Police considered McGill's daughter a suspect in killing

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Oct 17 2012 01:39:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2012 07:53:25 PM CDT
Graham/McGill Double Mug
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The daughter of a woman who was stabbed to death while walking her dog along the Spokane River was once considered a suspect in the killing and now her attorney is saying police misrepresented her level of cooperation in the case.

For several months, police thought 25-year-old Billie McKinney may have hired a hit man to kill her mother, Sharlotte McGill, so McKinney could collect $750,000 in insurance money.

Before she died, McGill told police she had been attacked by a black male with a bad eye and detectives questioned several men in the area that fit the description including Avondre Graham, the 17-year-old now charged with her murder.

However given the random and unprovoked nature of the deadly incident investigators began to wonder if there wasn't some other reason for why McGill was targeted for the mid-day ambush along the popular walkway known as Tuffy's Trail.

Detectives learned McGill had life insurance policies totaling $750,000 and retirement investments through her employer Costco and that her daughter Billie was the sole beneficiary of those assets.

Investigators became suspicious of McKinney when friends of McGill told police McKinney's behavior was inappropriate given the circumstances and that McKinney refused to accompany her mother in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

During the police department's subsequent interview with McKinney detectives say she showed little emotion and asked very few questions about the ongoing investigation.

Detectives said McKinney made multiple attempts to collect her mother's life insurance policy and that McKinney was scheduled for six different polygraph tests, none of which were completed.

However McKinney's attorney, Jeffrey Finer, says his client did voluntarily make herself available for the exams.

"That's clearly not true, she did have a number of polygraph sessions and the first one happened within just a few days after her mother's funeral and she had been very ill," Finer said.

Finer says he understands why police needed to scrutinize McKinney and that "she understands that an investigation must go where the evidence leads and that investigators must be persistent."

However Finer said when detectives were applying for search warrants for McKinney's phone and home, they misled the court about the level of McKinney's cooperation.

"The affidavit says she never cooperated. The affidavit says she never completed a poly and they don't tell the judge that actually she was ill, she was trying, that the polygraph examiner said he was having problems with the machine and so the judge was misled," Finer said.

The alleged errors in the affidavit the court considered are "unsettling" and in the coming days Finer said he will demand a formal explanation from the police department.

Spokane police report that McKinney is no longer considered a suspect in the case and as of last week McKinney has started receiving her mother's benefits.

Finer added McKinney has been cleared of any involvement in the murder, adding that "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."

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