Death penalty recommended in Wilks murder trial

Willie Wilks

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) — Monday, a jury recommended the death penalty for Willie Wilks, already convicted of murder in the death of Orora Wilkins in Youngstown last spring.

While the jury has made its recommendation, Judge Lou D’Apolito will have the final say as to whether or not Wilks receives the death penalty.

It took three weeks to seat a jury in the capital murder case against Wilks, but just five hours for that same jury to return a guilty verdict on April 15.

Wilks was screaming and kicking holes in walls as he was led from a Mahoning County Common Pleas courtroom where a jury found him guilty of aggravated murder.

Jury verdict papers.

Wilks was accused of killing Wilkins and then turning his AK-47 on Alexander Morales Jr. last spring.

Opening statements started last week that laid a narrative of revenge and rage that ended in the shooting death of Wilkins and the injuring of Morales as they sat on the front porch of a home on the city’s North Side.

Trial begins in Youngstown death penalty case

Prosecutors said Wilks was looking for Wilkins and her brother, Willie “Mister” Wilkins, to confront them about an alleged theft. He fired an AK-47 at Orora Wilkins and Morales, killing Wilkins.

As Judge Lou D’Apolito read the guilty verdict, Wilks slammed the table where he was seated and shouted his innocence.

“I didn’t do this,” screamed Wilks.

The judge called for quiet in the courtroom and later told sheriff’s deputies to keep people inside while Wilks was taken out.

In the hallway, Wilks started shouting at deputies and kicked a hole in the wall. Wilkins’ grandmother, Hattie Wilkins, was in the courtroom during the proceedings and said she was relieved by the verdict.

“It all in God’s hands and God has showed his hand today,” said Wilkins.

Wilks’ family did not want to go on camera, but his mother could be heard in the courtroom telling her son to ‘keep calm.” After court she said her son was caught off guard by the proceedings and didn’t expect a guilty verdict.

A sentencing date has not been set. Wilks could be sentenced to death.

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