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Key witness in Cosby killing 'traumatized'

Ennis Cosby
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January 17, 1997
Web posted at: 10:20 p.m. EST

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A key witness in the shooting death of Bill Cosby's only son saw "some portion of the homicide" but the woman was too traumatized to provide a clear description of the killer, Los Angeles' police chief said Friday.

Police had no suspect and no clear motive in the slaying of Ennis Cosby, Police Chief Willie Williams told a news conference.

Cosby, 27, was found dead early Thursday alongside his car on a Los Angeles freeway ramp. He died of a single gunshot wound to the head, coroner Scott Carrier said.

"We do not know whether it was an opportunistic robbery, whether it was something that was planned or whether it was a follow-up," Williams said. "We just don't know right now."

Earlier, police had said robbery was the most likely motive but would not rule out "a random act of violence." Williams would not say whether anything was taken from Cosby.

Cosby family in seclusion

Bill Cosby, his wife Camille and their four daughters were in seclusion. News crews who staked out his Pacific Palisades home were asked to leave and told that the actor-comedian would not be coming there.

Newspaper reports have said that the witness was a friend of the younger Cosby and that he was on his way to visit her right before the shooting. She headed to the scene after he called her to say he was delayed by a flat tire, the reports said. Williams refused to confirm or deny those details.

Police had hoped to distribute a composite sketch of the suspect -- described only as a white male -- but Williams said the witness was "very traumatized by the event and by the public exposure."

"Working with family and members of the department, we will be able to calm her down and relax her to the point we will be able to get concisely whatever she had," Williams said.

"We are involved in the care and feeding of a witness right now," police Lt. Anthony Alba told CNN.

Williams would provide little detail on what the woman may have actually seen.

"What we're saying is that she witnessed some portion of the homicide," he said. He added that could mean she either saw the killer approach the scene, commit the act or leave the scene.

Police have asked the media not identify the woman or show frontal pictures of her. The New York Daily News identified her Friday as a 47-year-old screenwriter.

The woman's lawyer told CNN he was not commenting on the case at the request of police. "She is scared to death," he said of his client.

Police spent about 30 minutes Thursday searching the Pacific Palisades home where Cosby had been staying, and several hours outside the house.

'A great man, a great friend'

Cosby, a 1992 graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, received his master's degree from Columbia University's Teacher's College in 1995. He was working on his doctorate in special education as a reading specialist, at Columbia.

Ennis Cosby was the inspiration for the character Theo Huxtable on his father's long-running NBC sitcom, "The Cosby Show."

"My family feels as though we lost a son," Phil Caputo, Ennis' best friend, told CNN's Larry King.

"He was a great man, he was a great friend," Caputo said. "He was a friend to everyone."

Actress Rita Moreno, a family friend, told King one reason Ennis Cosby was so special was that he "never stopped aspiring."

"He was everything about the future that was bright," she said.


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