Former States Attorney Remembers McGinnis Case

Kelly McGinnis, the man who murdered Greenville Attorney Thomas Meyer, on August 12, 1996, died this week in prison.

Current Bond County Circuit Judge John Knight said he was told the cause of McGinnis’ death was influenza.

Knight was the Bond County state’s attorney in 1996 and was probably one of the last people to be with McGinnis before the murder.

Knight said McGinnis visited him at the courthouse on a regular basis, asking Knight to prosecute his ex- wife, the judge and the attorneys in his divorce case for conspiracy. Meyer was attorney for McGinnis’ ex-wife. McGinnis was not pleased with the child custody situation of his divorce case.

Knight said he felt the 50/50 child custody offer to Kelly McGinnis was fair, and noted that McGinnis’ lawyer, Larry Lefevre, recommended the offer be accepted.

In the late afternoon on that August 12, McGinnis was back at Knight’s office, and Knight believes McGinnis gave what he considered a final statement. He expressed appreciation for what Knight had done, but still thought a criminal case should have been filed.

According to Knight, McGinnis said nobody had the right to take his kids away.

Knight said he was worried McGinnis would violate the court order and go get his children. The state’s attorney then called police to suggest they watch the house.

Knight reported nothing McGinnis said during that last visit indicated he was going to shoot anyone. “I had no idea he would do anything drastic like that,” Knight told WGEL.

Dennis Potthast was returning to his car parked in the city lot behind Meyer’s office. Potthast said he saw McGinnis seated in his parked vehicle. The two nodded their heads at each other as a greeting, but didn’t talk. Potthast said he didn’t sense anything suspicious during the encounter.

Knight said he had not been home for long when he was contacted by police and told Attorney Meyer had been shot and killed behind his law office, one-half block west of the courthouse. Knight said he immediately told police he believed Kelly McGinnis was the shooter.

When he was killed, Meyer had a private law practice and was also an assistant state’s attorney for Knight, handling any civil matters for the Bond County Board.

Upon the death of McGinnis, Knight felt it was a strange end to a strange and tragic story. Judge Knight said the murder was so tragic because it didn’t need to happen, and the divorce situation was very salvageable.