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Jury selection enters second week in capital case

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Staff report


Jury selection has entered its second week in a capital case in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Individual questioning of jurors has been underway in the courtroom of Judge Lou D’Apolito to hear the case against 42-year-old Willie Wilks of Elm Street.

More than 100 jurors reported to D’Apolito’s courtroom March 14 for orientation, and individual questioning began March 17.

As of late Monday afternoon, 23 jurors had been qualified to serve as jurors in the death-penalty case, a spokesman for Judge D’Apolito said. The spokesman said it is not known how many jurors will be qualified before general jury selection takes place to whittle the pool down to 12.

Wilks is accused of the May 21 shooting death of 20-year-old Ororo Wilkins and the wounding of another man at a Park Avenue home on the North Side.

Police said Wilkins was standing on the porch of the home holding a baby when she was killed.

If the jury finds Wilks guilty of aggravated murder with death-penalty specifications, a second phase of the trial, called a mitigation phase, will take place. In that phase of the trial, Wilks’ attorneys will present evidence to the jury as to why Wilks’ life should be spared.

Jurors could determine if Wilks deserves the death penalty, or life in prison with no parole, life in prison with no parole after 30 years, or life imprisonment with no parole after 25 years.