'He Wasn't There,' Defense Attorney In Gibson Trial Says

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Prosecutors in the jury trial for Jimmy Netherland, charged with first-degree murder of 40-year-old Natalie Gibson, laid out their strategies in Shawnee County Court Tuesday morning.

"First of all, he wasn't there. They know he wasn't there," defense attorney Linda Eckelman began her opening statement.

Prosecutors had a different picture of the night Gibson was shot after she and her partner Lori Allison returned to their home on 307 SW Quinton from "a night on the town."

Assistant District Attorney Charles Kitt told jurors they would hear testimony from four of the nine allegedly involved in the crime.

Bayate Covington, Duane Richey, Frednetta Winston, and Kevin Wilkins Jr were offered plea bargains to testify. "They put themselves [at the crime scene]," Kitt said. "They put Jimmy there."

Eckelman questioned the use of these witnesses and Covington in particular. She told jurors, "he is diagnosed bipolar, off his medication, drinking every day."

"This is a witness they're relying on to say all these kids were there," she said.

In the afternoon, family and friends listened as prosecutors played the 911 call Lori Allison just minutes after both were shot.

Allison took the stand in person.. prosecutor Chris Biggs showed jurors the gunshot wounds she survived - while Gibson died.

I saw the life drain out of her eyes, she said.

Netherland faces seven charges, including first-degree murder of Natalie Gibson, aggravated robbery of Gibson and of Allison and and aggravated battery of Allison.

The trial began half an hour late Tuesday morning after one juror was dismissed. She called late to say she was sick. The panel of jurors was sworn in without her, consisting now of nine women and five men, including two alternates.