A former soldier found guilty of capital murder in the May 19, 2019, killing of Auburn Police officer William Buechner, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Grady Wilkes, 33, was facing the death penalty, but jurors returned a life sentence instead.

Wilkes shot three officers with an AR-15 while they responded to a domestic violence call.

Grady Wilkes Alabama News
Grady Wilkes.

Testimony during the trial revealed Wilkes was wearing his National Guard body armor and helmet and carrying a shield in the Arrowhead Mobile Home Park when he shot at the officers.

Buechner and two others were wounded. Prosecutors said Buechner was running towards the sound of gunshots to assist other officers when multiple shots struck him. According to reports, his body camera footage was played during the trial. After being shot, he fell into a ditch, and you can hear him say, “Lord, please help me.”

“He intended to kill every single living soul that was on that porch,” Lee County District Attorney Jessica Ventiere told jurors.

Wilkes pleaded not guilty because of mental defect. His attorneys said he did not mean to kill the officer.

“I’m so sorry,” Wilkes told the court and Buechner’s family during sentencing, the Opelika-Auburn News reported. “I can’t put it into words. I can never make it up to you. I can never get him back. I’m so sorry.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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