Suspect in Auburn officer’s death appears before judge

Suspect in Auburn officer’s death appears before judge

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - The suspect in a weekend shooting that killed one east Alabama police officer and injured two others stood before a judge in his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

Grady Wayne Wilkes appeared in Judge Chris Hughes’ courtroom at the Lee County Justice Center for a hearing that lasted approximately 10 minutes.

Under heavy guard and handcuffed, shackled and dressed in blue, Wilkes listened as the judge read the charges again him; one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one count of second-degree domestic violence.

Grady Wayne Wilkes made his first court appearance at the Lee County Justice Center where Judge Chris Hughes read off the charges he faces.
Grady Wayne Wilkes made his first court appearance at the Lee County Justice Center where Judge Chris Hughes read off the charges he faces. (Source: Press pool photo)

Wilkes indicated that he understood the charges and Montgomery attorney Bill Whatley was appointed by the court to represent him.

At least nine sheriff’s deputies were present and standing guard during the proceedings.

Wilkes was arrested Monday morning after an overnight manhunt. The 29-year-old Alabama National Guard corporal is accused of shooting three police officers who responded to a domestic violence call at an area mobile home park.

Killed in the shooting was veteran Auburn police officer William Buechner. Wounded were officers Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott.

Officer Evan Elliott (left); Officer William Buechner (middle); and Officer Webb Sistrunk (right)
Officer Evan Elliott (left); Officer William Buechner (middle); and Officer Webb Sistrunk (right) (Source: Auburn Police Department)

Following his arrest, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes confirmed his office would "pursue the death penalty, absolutely.”

Grady Wayne Wilkes
Grady Wayne Wilkes (Source: Auburn Police Department)

During Tuesday’s hearing, Hughes addressed the facial bruising and cuts that appeared on Wilkes’ mug shot. Authorities had stated during a Monday morning news conference that his arrest was without incident.

“I do know he spent the night in the woods. He was running through the woods. He was trying to evade capture for many hours in the woods," said Hughes.

Hughes declined to speak about what happened Sunday night when the officers arrived at the Arrowhead Mobile Home Park on Wire Road.

“I don’t want to get too in-depth in detail other than a 911 call was made," he said.

Wilkes was denied bond. No date has been set for a preliminary hearing, and prosecutors believe it will be at least a year before a case is brought to trial.

WSFA 12 News has reached out to Wilkes’ attorney but has not heard back.

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