Janesville homicide suspect has trial date

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Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Janesville shooting suspect Barquis McKnight, right, appeared in Rock County Circuit Court Thursday morning with his attorney Michael Murphy.

JANESVILLE - A Beloit man charged in Janesville's first homicide in three years has a trial date set for Sept. 25, during a hearing in Rock County Court Thursday.

Barquis D. McKnight, 32, appeared briefly before Rock County Circuit Court Judge James Daley Thursday morning. McKnight is charged with first degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon. He is accused of shooting and killing Eddie Lee Jones, 28, of Markham, Illinois at a Janesville home on Franklin Street on May 28 following an argument.

At a June 23 hearing, Janesville Police Department staff testified that a witness saw McKnight fire three or four shots at Jones during an argument and said the victim was unarmed. A second witness didn't see the shooting, but saw Jones come into the house covered in blood.

The firearm used in the alleged murder, a black 9mm semi-automatic handgun, was located by authorities following a search of a home in the 2000 block of Bradley Street in Beloit after police made contact with McKnight's girlfriend, who had been instructed by McKnight to hide the weapon, according to monitored Rock County Jail correspondence between McKnight and the woman.

In interviews with police, McKnight changed his narrative multiple times, according to the complaint. He later told investigators he had stepped out of the residence because his cousin and Jones were going to "talk business," of which he could not be privy to due to his past as a police informant, the complaint against McKnight said.

Witnesses interviewed by Janesville police claim McKnight and Jones had argued loudly before the shooting, according to the criminal complaint. They claim to have heard multiple gunshots fired outside the home before Jones returned inside with severe injuries, the complaint said. Police later recovered four shell casings and two non-fired rounds of .9mm ammunition in the area.

McKnight has been previously convicted of methamphetamine offenses, domestic abuse, battery and disorderly conduct crimes, court records show.

His tentative trail date has been set for 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 25. A status conference hearing has been set for 8 a.m. Aug. 4.

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