COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court is considering the appeal of a convicted Youngstown murderer who is on death row.
The court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Willie Wilks, Jr.
Wilks was convicted of a May 2013 murder and attempted murder of two people in Youngstown. The trial court sentenced Wilks to death in May 2014.
Investigators said he shot a man — Alexander Morales, Jr., who was holding a baby at the time. He then shot a woman — Ororo Wilkins — in the head, killing her.
William Wilkins, Jr. also told police that Wilks — who was dating his mother — also shot at him, hitting the house.
Investigators said the shooting was due to an earlier dispute over a loan.
Wilks argues that the evidence wasn’t sufficient for a jury to find the elements of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. He also said the conviction was contrary to the weight of the evidence.
He says the murder weapon was never found, and there was no forensic evidence linking him to the crimes. He also questioned why police didn’t interview the others named as being in the car with him.
Prosecutors argued, however, that a conviction doesn’t require either evidence of a motive or physical evidence, and eyewitness testimony alone is sufficient.
Both William Wilkins and Morales named Wilks in court as the person who shot Ororo Wilkins and Morales.
The Supreme Court now has to determine whether the jury had “substantial evidence to reasonably conclude that all elements were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”