Unlikely Suspect Guilty of Murder in Fla.
Aug. 10, 2003
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A family man and computer technician seemed an unlikely suspect in a murder case that also involved a gun-toting Czech playboy, illegal aliens and a jailhouse snitch.
But a jury disagreed, convicting Matthew McKinney late Saturday of murdering a Czech business associate three years ago.
Circuit Judge Linda Nobles said she would set a sentencing date after Sept. 19. McKinney could face up to life in prison.
McKinney, 29, met a pair of Czech nationals when he was hired to install a satellite dish.
Soon, he was helping Petr Pospisil, the murder victim, and Vladimir ``Larry'' Janko manage their cleaning business. The two imported aliens on tourist and student visas, who then worked illegally as janitors and maids.
The FBI met McKinney in January 2002 while looking for Pospisil and Janko, who were among several Czechs accused of employing aliens and skimming their wages.
McKinney told investigators Pospisil was dead, shot in 2000 by Janko, who suspected Pospisil stole money from their company.
He said he never reported the killing because he was afraid Janko would exact revenge against him, his wife and three children.
McKinney said Janko forced him to drive Janko to the victim's home, create a diversion and then help Janko roll the body in a carpet secured with duct tape.
Prosecutors contended that while Janko may have had a hand in the killing, it was McKinney who was the trigger man. They pointed to evidence that Pospisil was brushing his teeth when shot in the back of the head.
``He wouldn't have been alarmed if McKinney was in the house, but he certainly would not be brushing his teeth if Janko was in the house,'' Assistant State Attorney David Rimmer. According to testimony, Pospisil feared Janko.
Jurors never heard Janko's side of the story. Janko, described in testimony as a handsome tough guy who drove expensive cars and charmed women, is back in the Czech Republic, FBI Agent Terry Wetmore testified.
McKinney initially was charged with being an accessory to the crime, but he was indicted on a murder charge after a convicted burglar who shared a cell with him told investigators McKinney admitted pulling the trigger.
The inmate, Jonathan Bluntson, testified McKinney told him he had shot Pospisil and then put a bag over his head to stop his breathing.
``I said `That was cold, man,''' Bluntson testified. ``He started chuckling about it.''