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Man convicted of killing Ala. police officer gets life in prison without parole

A jury convicted Grady Wayne Wilkes of capital murder in Officer Buechner’s death, and of attempted murder in the wounding of two other officers

Officer William Buechner.jpg

Auburn Police Department via AP

By Carol Robinson

AUBURN, Ala. — An Auburn man convicted in the 2019 killing of Auburn Police Officer William Buechner in a shooting that also injured two other officers has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A Lee County jury earlier this week convicted 33-year-old Grady Wayne Wilkes of capital murder in Buechner’s death, and of attempted murder in the wounding of officers Evan Elliot and Mark Sistrunk.

Wilkes was found not guilty of attempted of Ron Askelson.

That same jury spared Wilkes from the death penalty, according to WRBL. There is no judicial override.

The guilty verdict was handed down Tuesday afternoon after an eight-day trial. It began Monday, Aug. 7, and jurors began their deliberations on Monday, Aug. 14.

The deadly shooting happened Sunday, May 19, 2019.

Auburn police responded about 10:40 p.m. to a domestic disturbance call at a mobile home park in the 3000 block of Wire Road.

The officers met with the female victim - Brooklyn Flaherty - who told them that Wilkes, who was her live-in boyfriend and the father of her child, physically assaulted her and threatened to kill her. The woman told police Wilkes had grabbed her by the wrist and choked her.

Flaherty fled the apartment and met officers at a different location within the trailer park.

After meeting with victim, multiple officers – including Buechner, Sistrunk and Elliott – went back to the home to make contact with Wilkes. The officers knocked, and Wilkes opened the door, wearing body armor and brandishing a rifle.

He immediately opened fire.

Buechner was transported to East Alabama Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Sistrunk and Elliott were transported to another hospital for treatment of their wounds.

The fourth officer - Askelson - was fired upon but was not struck.

At the time of the shooting, Wilkes was an active member of the Alabama Army National Guard as a corporal and infantry fire team leader who joined the guard in 2010.

Wilkes was arrested at 7:12 a.m., Monday, a little more than nine hours after the initial call was made.

Wilkes testified during the trial, saying he fired at the officers because he thought one of them had a gun aimed at him.

According to the Opelika-Auburn News, Wilkes said his reflexes and muscle memory pushed him to load is rifle and shooting.

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