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Kenan Gay trial focuses on witness credibility

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/29/20/02/T6dUU.Em.138.jpeg|473
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    Kenan Gay
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/02/18/25/13V2Gm.Em.138.jpeg|500
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    Robert Kingston

Lance Cibik extended his hands and mimicked falling in front of the jury box Monday afternoon, trying to demonstrate what he saw in the seconds before his BMW struck Robert Kingston.

“I hit him as he was falling,” he told jurors. “Like if my body was stretched out and I was looking at the driver.”

“...Later, I was able to look back and see there was a body in the road.”

Cibik, 34, who works for SunTrust bank, took the stand on the third day of testimony in the Kenan Gay trial. Gay is charged with second-degree murder in the March 3, 2012, death of Kingston. If convicted, his sentence could range from probation to 20 years in prison.

Kingston and Gay had been drinking at Ed’s Tavern in Dilworth on that night when Kingston tried to kiss Gay’s girlfriend. Surveillance video evidence appears to show Kingston putting his hands on her rear. Gay, 25, a former walk-on football player at UNC Chapel Hill who was a student at Charlotte School of Law when the incident occurred, grabbed Kingston by the collar and pushed him out of the bar.

At issue is what happened next.

Defense attorneys claim Kingston, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.29, three times the legal limit to drive, drunkenly stumbled into the street, and was hit by Cibik’s car. Alan Cole, the owner of Ed’s Tavern, has told jurors that Gay hurled Kingston into the street.

Cibik said he never saw Kingston or Gay. He had left his Dilworth home that night and was headed out to meet friends for drinks. He told jurors he’d just gone through the light at Park Road and Ideal Way when Kingston seemingly “fell out of the sky.”

Cibik testified that he pulled over, dialed 911 and ultimately went to check on Kingston, who stopped breathing as he was on the phone with dispatchers.

Police interviewed Cibik and he took a field sobriety test, but he had no alcohol in his system and has not been charged with a crime.

On Monday, attorneys on both sides continued to spar over the credibility of Cole, the prosecutors’ first witness, who was on the stand for three days in total.

He has told jurors he was standing at the door of his bar when he saw Gay push Kingston out the door and into the street.

But during cross-examination, defense attorney David Rudolf tried to point out inconsistencies in Cole’s statements to police and later to jurors. Defense attorneys have said the incident happened in a matter of seconds, which casts doubt on some eyewitness testimony.

Rudolf asked Cole about disparities in how he described the shirt he was wearing, which way one of the exterior doors of his tavern opens and what he said to Gay immediately after Kingston was killed.

“The fact of the matter is you can’t remember all the details that happened that night,” Rudolf said to Cole.

Cole replied: “I cannot remember 2 inches this way, 3 inches that way and apparently the color of my shirt, but I remember what I saw.”

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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