LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – The man accused in the Capital Murder death of an Auburn Police Officer had his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon inside the Lee County Justice Center.
29-year-old Grady Wilkes was dressed in civilian clothes, wearing handcuffs when he told the judge he could not afford an attorney. William Whatley was appointed to represent him and commented on his desire to file a motion to limit pre-trial publicity.
Wilkes is being held without bond for the capital murder of Auburn Officer William Buechner. Wilkes also faces three counts of Attempted Murder of APD Officers Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliot who were injured in the shooting. Another Auburn Police Officer who was fired upon, but not wounded. Wilkes also faces Domestic Violence Strangulation involving the mother of his child.
District Attorney Brandon Hughes is seeking the death penalty.
Sunday night, Wilkes is accused of firing on police responding to a domestic disturbance mobile home park off wire road. Court documents obtained by News 3 confirm chilling details. According to the probable cause for arrest on the affidavit:
“Officers met with a victim who told them her live-in boyfriend and father of her child, Grady Wayne Wilkes had threatened to kill her as well as physically assaulted her. She advised that he had grabbed her by the wrist and also choked her. She fled the residence and met officers at another location inside the trailer park. Multiple Auburn Police Officers, including Officer William Buechner, went to the residence in an attempt to make contact with Wilkes. Officers knocked on the door and Wilkes answer the door wearing body armor and was armed with a rifle. After Wilkes opened the door, he immediately began firing at the officers. Officer William Buechner Officer Mark Sistrunk and Officer Evan Elliott were all struck by gunfire. “
Officer Buechner succumbed to his wounds at the hospital. He was a husband, father of two and beloved 13-year veteran of APD. Officer Sistrunk is still recovering at the hospital; Officer Elliott has been released.
Wilkes was arrested nine hours later after a massive manhunt located him about a mile away from the shooting scene. News 3 has confirmed he was active with the Alabama National Guard since 2010. He was assigned to the 173rd Infantry headquartered in Enterprise. Wilkes was an infantry fire team leader.
Meanwhile, funeral arrangements have been set for Officer Buechner. Visitation is set for Friday, with Funeral Services to follow at AU’s Arena. The information can be found on our website.