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CONFLICTING REPORTS CLOUD COSBY CASE.

Byline: Jaxon Van Derbeken Daily News Staff Writer

Exactly what happened in the moments before a single gunshot took the life of Ennis Cosby early Thursday remains a mystery.

Police say a Sherman Oaks woman reported finding Cosby dead next to his Mercedes-Benz after he had called her on his cellular telephone to ask for help changing a flat tire.

But the New York Daily News reported that the woman arrived before he was shot, watched him begin to fix the flat, drove away in her Jaguar when she saw a man walking toward Cosby, and then returned to find him shot to death.

Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams, during a news conference Friday, refused to provide specific information about the case, although he said the woman remains the best source of clues.

``The people of Los Angeles should always be concerned and use caution until we get this individual into custody,'' Williams said.

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

What is known is that when police arrived at the desolate stretch of Skirball Center Drive, they found Cosby dead and the woman, clad in a fur coat and high heels. She told them that at Cosby's request, she had driven to the meet him, to use her Jaguar's lights to illuminate the area while he worked on his car.

The 27-year-old son of entertainment giant Bill Cosby had met the 47-year-old screenwriter at a Los Angeles party last week, and he was en route to visit her in Sherman Oaks after working out in a gym Wednesday night.

Cosby was shot to death at about 1:45 a.m. Thursday atop the Sepulveda Pass.

On Friday, police disclosed the existence of a possible second witness, a security guard who had been patrolling the tony Bel-Air neighborhood 20 minutes to 30 minutes before the murder. But they noted that his descriptions conflicted with the woman's, and their value was unclear.

Questions that Williams refused to answer included whether anything had been stolen from Cosby, whether there was more than one witness, what exactly the lone witness had seen, whether the witness's account had changed, whether the witness was involved in the slaying and how the killer had escaped.

In interviews with police, the woman described a ``white male'' as the person she saw at the crime scene upon her arrival. But so far, she has been unable to provide enough detail for a composite sketch of the suspect, stymieing police efforts to enlist the public in the search.

Williams said the goal is to ``calm her down and have her relaxed enough'' so that she could provide a better quality sketch.

``We are working with her and trying to make sure that when we have a sketch that's available, that it's something that is good, that it's really focused towards one individual rather than a general person,'' Williams said.

The woman reported Cosby's shooting by calling 911 on her cellular car phone, but police said they would not release the tapes.

``This is an individual who witnessed a homicide,'' Williams said. He declined to explain what part of the homicide the woman had witnessed or whether she had just seen the suspect.

Investigators said the second possible witness's descriptions were enough to complete a composite sketch, but they conflict with the woman's information.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: A note was placed, with flowers, on the site of Ennis Cosby's death atop the Sepulveda Pass by Tean Andreozzi of Culver City.

Michael Owen Baker/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 19, 1997
Words:611
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