Jury selection begins for trial in fatal shooting
By Joe Gorman
Potential jurors are expected to report to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court today to begin the selection process in the trial of a man accused of killing a woman on the North Side last May.
Judge Lou D’Apolito will have an orientation for jurors before they fill out questionnaires and then return Monday to be selected to hear the case against Willie Wilks, 42, of Elm Street, who could face the death penalty if convicted of the May 21 shooting of 20-year-old Ororo Wilkins.
Wilks is accused of driving to a home in the 700 block of Park Avenue and opening fire, killing Wilkins, who was holding an infant when she was killed, and wounding a man, Alexander Morales Jr.
Police said they thought Wilks used an AK-47 assault rifle when he shot Wilkins, and the same bullet also wounded Morales. The baby was not harmed.
Detectives said Wilks was dating the victim’s mother and that he had argued with the victim’s brother earlier that day because they did not like the way he had been treating their mother. They said he went to the home looking for the brother and opened up with the rifle hoping to hit him.
He was later caught after a short vehicle and foot chase. The vehicle he was driving was registered to the victim’s mother, police said.
Judge D’Apolito said he expects the jury-selection process to take at least a week.
If Wilks is found guilty of aggravated murder with the death-penalty specification, a second phase of the trial, called a mitigation phase, will take place. In that phase, defense attorneys will present evidence to jurors on why they should spare Wilks’ life.