Wilks Pleads Not Guilty

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A Youngstown man facing the death penalty for fatally shooting a woman holding a 5-month-old baby and trying to kill another man will be held in the Mahoning County Jail until attorneys assigned to the case on Wednesday can review the charges.

Willie G. Wilks Jr., 41, of Elm Street, pleaded not guilty Wednesday at his arraignment in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court charges of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications for fatally shooting Orora Wilkins, 20, Tuesday  on the city’s North Side.

Wilks pleaded not guilty to a lesser murder charge and two counts of attempted murder for shooting Alexander Morales, 24, and shooting near the five-month-old baby. He also entered not guilty pleas for two counts of felonious assault, improperly discharging a firearm into a home and having weapons despite being prohibited to do so by law.

The case was assigned to Judge Lou D’Apolito. Defense attorneys Thomas Zena and Ronald Yarwood were appointed as Wilks’ two death-penalty certified attorneys.

The U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force apprehended Wilkins May 22 following a short car and foot chase outside the Rockford Village Apartments  on Youngstown’s East Side days after the shooting.

Police found a semiautomatic handgun and $1,680 after the chase.

Wilks, police said, shot Wilkins and Morales at about 5 p.m. May 21 while the two were sitting on the front porch 725 Park Ave. when Wilks fired shots. Police said he was seeking Wilkins’ brother.

Morales was shot trying to get back into the house, police said. The 5-month-old belongs to Wilkins’ best friend, Renea Jenkins.

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