Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mcginnis Pleads Guilty of Murdering Lawyer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mcginnis Pleads Guilty of Murdering Lawyer

Article excerpt

After leading police on a national manhunt for 86 days and riveting the public with letters accusing the courts of corruption, Kelly Lee McGinnis surprised a courtroom in Greenville Thursday by pleading guilty of the murder of his ex-wife's divorce lawyer.

Against the advice of his court-appointed lawyer, Don W. Weber, McGinnis entered his guilty plea before Circuit Judge John L. DeLaurenti in Bond County Court. McGinnis, 40, could face the death penalty for first-degree murder in the shooting of Greenville City Attorney Thomas Meyer outside his office on Aug. 12.

When DeLaurenti asked McGinnis how he wanted to plead - usually a formality at such hearings - McGinnis hesitated for several seconds, then lifted his shoulders and sighed loudly. "Your honor, for firing the second shot of two shots, I plead guilty," he said. McGinnis did not explain his comment and sources close to the case were unsure what it meant. Meyer was shot several times in the chest with a shotgun. McGinnis was captured Nov. 6 after he went to his former lawyer's office in Vandalia, Ill., and fired three shots into the desks while the lawyer was gone. Weber, who said in court that he had advised McGinnis to plead innocent, had no comment after the hearing. McGinnis' relatives attending the hearing also had no comment. State's Attorney John Knight said he would seek the death penalty when McGinnis is sentenced. Knight said he was surprised and pleased by McGinnis' guilty plea. McGinnis remains in the County Jail in Greenville without bond. He had amazed police with his ability to elude capture after Meyer's death. Despite a manhunt and national publicity, McGinnis toured the country in his green Ford minivan, staying in inexpensive motels and snapping photographs at zoos like an ordinary tourist, police said. His long flight even led some in Southern Illinois to assign him status as a cult hero, with "McGinnis for President" graffiti springing up on overpasses. …

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