Eyewitness says he may have gotten it wrong in murder trial

Published: Nov. 3, 2011 at 11:16 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 23, 2011 at 3:25 AM EST
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Ken Brown
Ken Brown
Kerry Porter
Kerry Porter
Tyrone Camp
Tyrone Camp
Kerry Porter and Juan Sanders
Kerry Porter and Juan Sanders

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Piece by piece, Kerry Porter's lawyers hope to chip away at the case against him and set him free. We've followed the story of the Louisville man. He's been locked up for almost 15 years now for murder that he says he didn't do.

"The main reason for this interview is to let the public know, I'm not a killer," Porter told WAVE 3 in his first interview earlier this fall. "I am not a killer."

The evidence against Porter in his 1998 trial for killing Tyrone Camp painted a strong circumstantial case, bolstered by an eyewitness who identified him.  Now that witness, Ken Brown, says he might have gotten it wrong.

"I've never seen anything as bad as what he was," Brown said.

It was still dark on December 27th, 1996 when Brown saw something no one should ever have to see.

"That's something you never forget, you know," he said. "I rolled him over and he was .. he shot him point blank."

Brown was the first person to find his friend and co-worker Tyrone Camp, shot twice, killed with a shotgun.

"I was telling him, you know, course I was telling him I was calling the police and I was dialing 911 but he was already gone," Brown said.

That's not the only thing Brown saw that morning. Shortly before finding Camp's body, Brown drove his truck after a running man, who it turns out killed his friend.

"Honestly, I was going to run over him, if I could have caught him but he was quick, he was gone," he said.

The whole thing lasted seconds and Brown told police he never got closer than 15 or 20 feet from the shooter and he only saw him from the side.

"That's all I got was a side view and his body, you know his body and that's about all I know," Brown said.

Still, a year and a half later, Brown identified Kerry Porter at his trial as the killer.

The exchange with then-prosecutor, now judge McKay Chauvin, went like this:

CHAUVIN: Whose picture is it that's in your head?
BROWN: Kerry Porter.
CHAUVIN: Who's the man that you saw running out of the truck plant that day?
BROWN: Kerry Porter.

He now says he's not so sure.

REPORTER: You're saying that the man that you identified in court may or may not be the person who killed your friend?
BROWN: That's right.
REPORTER: If they lined up ten guys that all matched that same physical description, do you think you could have picked out from those ten guys which one was it?
BROWN: No.
REPORTER: It was more of the body type?
BROWN: Body type. That's all I told them I had. That's it, the side, the build, his legs you know, that's what I saw. That's all I saw.

Brown says even during the trial, he wasn't sure, but he felt pressure to do right by Tyrone and his twin brother Jerome and he didn't want to let a killer walk free.

"I knew him," Brown said. "I knew J and I knew Ty and I ... With them telling me, we've got the carpet, we've got the tape, we've got the sweatshirt, we've got .. I thought, this is the guy, they've got him. This is it."

But that physical evidence never tied Porter to the killing and at trial, Porter's lawyers brought in another man, Juan Sanders, who later married the victim's wife. The defense lawyer Katherine Kingren pointed suspicion at him.

Brown testified that it was Porter, not sanders who he saw running.

CHAUVIN: Ms. Kingren called Mr. Sanders into the courtroom the other day, does that change anything about the picture or anything about your ability to identify Mr. Porter as the man you saw running from the truck plant shortly after the shots were fired?
BROWN: No.

He now says it could be either man or neither.

"They both looked alike," he said. "I mean, one was about two inches shorter than the other. I told them it could be either one."

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