TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - A Lafayette man will serve 57 years for the murder of a Donald Alkire.
As we've previously reported, prosecutors say Joseph Wilkerson and Floyd Smith went to Alkire's apartment on March 7th. This was on Seventh Street near the corner of Cincinnati Street.
Court documents say Wilkerson and Smith attacked Alkire, stabbing him in the neck. He died from his injuries at Franciscan Health's emergency room.
Wilkerson took a plea bargain in May and received his sentence on Thursday in Superior 1.
Alkire's mother gave a brief statement before the court. She said she doesn't understand why this happened and that this has ruined her life and her son's life. The family was in tears sitting in the audience of the courtroom.
Wilkerson's defense lawyers agreed that what happened was awful. They offered several mitigators, including Wilkerson's minimal criminal history, entering a guilty plea bargain that had no benefit for him, preventing the victim's family the stress of going through a trial by taking a plea bargain so quickly and his mental health history.
The state argued that Wilkerson has struggled with illegal drug usage in his past and previous attempts at rehabilitation had failed. They argued that Wilkerson planned this murder with Smith and that he showed little remorse or guilt to police officers who questioned him that day.
They also said there was trust between Alkire, Wilkerson and Smith that was clearly broken. Alkire was getting his life on track with job interviews, a girlfriend, a nephew he spent time with and paid for an apartment. The state said this act was, "premeditated, cold blooded and ruthless."
Wilkerson gave a brief statement. He stood and faced Alkire's family in the audience. He said he was so sorry for all of this and that the family had every right to hate him. He also said this wasn't something planned.
Judge Randy Williams began his statement by saying he is amazed at how often cases like this come up. He said what happened to Alkire, fatally stabbing him in the neck, was a personal act in nature. He recognized the loss both Wilkerson and Alkire's families are now facing. He called what happened a "heinous act."
He did not support the state's aggregator that there was trust broken between the victims and the perpetrators. He acknowledged the speediness of this case, saying it was being resolved quicker than some public intoxication cases held in the lower courts. He said he has seen many families suffer through a jury trial and said that none of them deserved to be there.
He acknowledged Wilkerson's struggles with mental health, but said considering he had a long history of using illegal drugs, it added to his criminal history background. However, he said the "gold blooded nature is what tips the scale."
He was ultimately sentenced to 54 years in the Department of Corrections and three years on probation. Alkire's mother said she felt that was a fair sentence.
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington could not comment much on this verdict because the co-defendant, Smith, is still pursuing a trial. The trial is currently set for September.