Police were called out around 4:30 Saturday morning to find Sawyers shot multiple times in Downtown Louisville.
Gregory Sawyers (LMDC)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville's latest homicide victim turns out to be a major witness in a federal murder trial.
The coroner has identified the man as Gregory Sawyers, 34. Police were called to the intersection of Broadway and Clay around 4:30 Saturday morning to find Sawyers shot multiple times in the middle of the street. He was pronounced dead on the scene at 4:47 am.
Sawyers was a witness in the case against Ricky Kelly. Kelly is charged with the murder of Laquante Jacksons in federal court. At one point, Kelly had been indicted for assaulting Sawyers.
On March 25, 2011, Kelly was facing eight murder charges dating back to 1996 but they were dismissed in Jefferson Circuit Court.
With the dismissal of state charges, the case proceeded to the federal level. In 2011, Sawyers was serving time for a firearms conviction. He was able to get his sentence reduced by agreeing to testify against Kelly. There have been concerns about witness safety throughout both cases.
At the time Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne said "Mr. Kelly, the allegations were that he killed witnesses."
With Sawyers dead the suspicions continue to grow, but Kelly's defense maintains that he had nothing to do with Sawyers' death.
"Ricky has had nothing to do with this murder of Gregory Sawyers at all. I'm 110% confident of that, " said Pat Renn, attorney for Ricky Kelly.
"The government wants to make him into some type of star and some kind of a diamond but the bottom line is he's a piece of coal," Renn said of Sawyers.
Wave 3 News obtained Sawyers' criminal history. In the past had been slapped with several protection orders and also charged with terroristic threatening and cocaine possession.
Rick Kelly is in federal custody awaiting trial. Renn said his office is sorting through evidence and they are hoping to go to trial sometime in spring of 2014. He said he did not anticipate Sawyers offering any damaging testimony.
"Given the fact that he's got a criminal history," Renn said, "he's given several inconsistent statements, that he too was a suspect in the same murder that he wanted to talk about, he gave statements that didn't match the evidence."
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