Sentencing set in 2005 murder case

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008

Nearly four years after Mephibosheth "Moshe" Wilkinson was murdered in Homer, a sentencing date has been set for his accused killer, Leonard Wallace.

During a status hearing on Thursday, Superior Court Judge Anna M. Moran set Wallace's sentencing date for Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. at the Kenai Superior Courthouse. Moran also on Tuesday denied Wallace's motion to withdraw his no-contest plea to second-degree murder.

Wallace, 51, pleaded no contest in October 2005 to second-degree murder. Wilkinson, then 29, was shot and killed about 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2004, in the parking lot of the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center near Mile 2.5 East Skyline Drive in Homer following an argument with Wallace in Wallace's truck.

Wallace had picked up Wilkinson earlier that night while he was hitchhiking. Alaska State Trooper investigators said Wallace had a breath-alcohol content of .209 at the time of his arrest.

In charging documents, troopers allege Wallace shot Wilkinson in the head with a .22-caliber derringer. Troopers said Wallace ran from the truck and went to a Skyline Drive home, where he told a woman he had shot someone. Wilkinson died that night at South Peninsula Hospital while being prepared for a medevac flight to Anchorage.

Wallace filed a motion to withdraw his plea in September 2006, citing ineffective counsel among other reasons. Wallace had been represented by Wasilla attorney Abigail Sheldon, but because she could not both represent him and defend a claim of ineffective counsel, Superior Court Judge Harold Brown, now retired, assigned Wallace's case temporarily to Kenai attorney Mark Osterman. The case dragged on over the past two years as Osterman asked for time to review the case. A series of evidential trials and an illness to Osterman also added to the delay of a sentencing trial, said Kenai District Attorney June Stein.

In his original plea agreement shortly before the scheduled start of a jury trial, in a last-minute deal with Stein, Wallace agreed to plea no contest to second-degree murder in return for serving a sentence of no more than 25 years of active jail time. Wallace has been at Wildwood Pretrial Facility since his arrest in 2004.

First-degree and second-degree murder are both unclassified felonies with a sentence of up to 99 years in prison.

Mike Nesper can be reached at mike.nesper@peninsulaclarion.com.



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