Trial begins in Youngstown death penalty case

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The trial against a Youngstown man accused of killing a woman and attempting to kill two others began Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Willie Wilks Jr. is charged with aggravated murder in the May 21 shooting death of Orora Wilkins, 20, of Youngstown.

Wilks pleads not guilty

Wilks is also accused of shooting Alex Morales in the back as he sat on the porch with Wilkins at a house on Park Avenue.

Prosecutors painted Wilks as an enraged man looking for revenge when he went to the house that Tuesday afternoon.

Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Becky Doherty said Wilks was looking for Orora Wilkins’ brother William “Mister” Wilkins when he went to the house because Wilkins had allegedly accused him of stealing money from a family member.

“You walk up to a porch with an AK-47, a big gun, and you shoot her in the head. That is the purpose. The purpose is to kill her,” said Doherty. “This isn’t something that is spur of the moment. This isn’t we get into a heated argument and I pull out a gun and shoot you. This is something that is thought out.”

According to Doherty, Alex Morales and Orora Wilkins were sitting on the porch when Wilks walked up and asked, “Where the (expletive) is he?”

Morales got up to go inside the house and Wilks allegedly shot him in the back. Morales was holding a baby at the time and fell on top of the child. Orora Wilkins got up to go to the baby and was shot in the head and killed.

Doherty said that Wilkins also fired shots at an upstairs window in an attempt to hit William “Mister” Wilkins.

Most of the testimony Wednesday centered on the shooting scene. Doherty questioned Patrolman Melvin Johnson, who was one of the first officers to respond. She specifically asked him about radio traffic and what was reported at the scene, specifically if a Be On The Lookout (BOLO) had been issued for Wilks.

“I heard radio from other officers when I mentioned the name Wilks that was given to me as a potential suspect. I heard radio traffic from other officers in reference to a Wilks based on things they were familiar with about vehicles and license plates,” said Johnson. “I am listening to this but not directly because I know these officers are speaking to one another in reference to my initial announcement that Wilks was mentioned.”

The jury has been to the crime scene where bullet holes can still be seen near an upstairs window and on the porch.

Several witnesses are scheduled to testify, including Orora Wilkins’ sister.

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