Cosby Suspect Not ID’d in Lineup, Lawyer Says
Asked at a police lineup to point out the killer of Ennis Cosby, a witness did not identify the 18-year-old North Hollywood youth whom police have called the shooter, a defense lawyer said Wednesday.
In a development that could raise significant doubts about the strength of the prosecution case, the witness “categorically eliminated” 18-year-old Mikail “Michael” Markhasev from a lineup of half a dozen suspects, defense lawyer Charles L. Lindner said.
Each of the suspects in the lineup also was asked to speak certain words, Lindner said. The defense attorney was not present at the lineup but said that he obtained the results from a lawyer who was there.
Markhasev, who was arrested March 12, faces murder charges with special circumstances that could lead the district attorney’s office to seek the death penalty. The next Municipal Court hearing in the case is scheduled for April 18, though it is widely believed that prosecutors may seek to avoid the public disclosure of evidence in a preliminary hearing by seeking a grand jury indictment.
Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, declined comment late Wednesday about the lineup that took place on the day of Markhasev’s arrest. She said, “We’re not going to be making any out-of-court statements about the evidence in the case.”
Cosby, the 27-year-old son of entertainer Bill Cosby, was shot once in the head Jan. 16 while trying to change a tire on his Mercedes-Benz on a side street near Mulholland Drive, just off the San Diego Freeway.
Lindner declined to identify the witness brought to the police lineup at the County Jail.
Though it has been more than a month since Markhasev’s arrest, Lindner said defense attorneys still have received only one police report from prosecutors.
LAPD Cmdr. Tim McBride declined to discuss whether a witness was able to identify Markhasev. He said investigators were preparing their case for court presentation and would not discuss the case.
The only known eyewitness to the case, a 47-year-old woman, apparently was called by Ennis Cosby that night to assist him in changing a flat tire.
Using a description provided by the woman, police released a composite sketch of the suspect. At the time, the suspect was described as a white male of average height and weight between 25 and 32 years old. He was wearing a light-colored knit cap and was seen approaching Cosby on foot.
Homicide investigators tracked down Markhasev, a Ukrainian immigrant, with information provided by a tipster who called the National Enquirer.
Times staff writer Matt Lait contributed to this report.