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Former soldier found guilty in Auburn police officer's killing faces sentencing hearing

A sentencing hearing was initiated on Wednesday for a former soldier who was found guilty a day prior of the murder of an Auburn police officer in a 2019 shooting incident.

A sentencing hearing began Wednesday for a former soldier found guilty a day earlier of killing an Auburn police officer.

Jurors on Tuesday found Grady Wayne Wilkes guilty of capital murder of a police officer in the 2019 shooting death of officer William Buechner and the attempted murder of two other officers. Jurors now must decide whether to sentence Wilkes to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole, news outlets reported.

Buechner was shot and killed in 2019 while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Prosecutors said Wilkes answered the door wearing a military helmet and body armor and began firing at officers.


WRBL reported that during the trial the courtroom listened to Buechner's last words, which were captured on his body camera after he was shot. "Lord, please help me," he said.

Defense lawyers argued that Wilkes is mentally ill and did not intend to kill the officer, the station reported.

Wilkes had been a member of the Alabama National Guard and was the leader of an infantry fire team, or combat unit, a Guard spokesman told The Associated Press in 2019.

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