ARTICLE

Central City man will serve 30 years for fatally shooting friend last year

Man pleaded last month to voluntary manslaughter, possession of a firearm

Martin Wilkinson (left), seated with his attorney Kjas Long, listens victim impact statements during his sentencing for voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon at Linn County District Court on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. Wilkinson previously pleaded guilty to the two charges in the August 2012 death of Gregory O'Hare and was sentenced to serve a maximum of 30 years. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)
Martin Wilkinson (left), seated with his attorney Kjas Long, listens victim impact statements during his sentencing for voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon at Linn County District Court on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. Wilkinson previously pleaded guilty to the two charges in the August 2012 death of Gregory O'Hare and was sentenced to serve a maximum of 30 years. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

A 64-year-old Central City man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for shooting and killing his friend Gregory O'Hare during a fight  Aug. 24, 2012.

"It has been over a year since Greg was taken from us....and it's like a bad dream," William O'Hare, Greg's father said during a victim's impact statement Friday.

William O'Hare wondered how this could happen because his 47-year-old son was shot five times in the back, which told him that his son was walking away from Martin Wilkinson that night.

Janet O'Hare, Greg's mother, in a victim's impact statement, read by a witness/victim coordinator with the Linn County Attorney's Office, said she still relives the day her son was shot eight times. She thought about how her son's body was left out in the road all night after being shot and how "nobody was there when he died."

She described her son as always helping others, including his parents, whenever they needed him. She regrets not being able to see his body after his death because of the gunshot wounds to his body, and will continue to wonder if he suffered or died quickly.

Many family members and friends of O'Hare packed the small courtroom during the sentencing and several other family members submitted statements to the court for consideration. Wilkinson's family also attended the hearing.

Wilkinson, originally charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, pleaded last month to voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon with penalty enhancement because of 3 prior felony convictions. Both charges carry 15 year sentences and the judge ran them consecutively for a total of up to 30 years. He will have to serve five years on the manslaughter sentence and three years on the possession charge before being eligible for parole.

Wilkinson shot O'Hare with an Astra A-7 handgun eight times and five of those were shot in O'Hare's back, according to testimony during hearings. Witnesses discovered O'Hare's body in a rural area a short distance from Wilkinson's home. Witnesses also told police they heard gunshots the day before. Before Wilkinson was taken into custody that day, he was involved in a five hour stand-off with authorities.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said during the hearing that Wilkinson killed O'Hare without justification and then he tied his body to an ATV with bungee cord in attempt to move and hide the body but the cord broke and he left O'Hare's body in the road.

"He treated the body like a bag of trash," Vander Sanden said.

Vander Sanden said Wilkinson knew the law prohibited him from having firearms because of his 13 previous convictions, including three felonies, but police recovered 37 weapons from his home and a "stockpile" of ammunition.

Kjas Long, Wilkinson's attorney, asked the court to run the sentences concurrently. He said Wilkinson shot O'Hare in self-defense. O'Hare attacked him in the middle of the night.

Long also read statements made by several friends and family members that said they never saw Wilkinson violent and that he was good man who was always willing to help others.

Wilkinson declined to make a statement to the court.

During his plea hearing, Wilkinson said he was "in fear of my life" before shooting O'Hare. He claimed it was self-defense because O'Hare was reaching for a rifle during the fight.Sixth Judicial District Judge Robert Sosalla said he was running the sentences consecutively because the crime involved a firearm which resulted in death, his prior offenses and the nature and circumstances involving this crime. He told Wilkinson if he had obeyed the law regarding firearms, O'Hare would likely be alive today.