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Lexington County man sentenced to 45 years for domestic violence murder

Lexington, SC - Marion C. Wilkes, age 76, has been convicted of Murder by a Lexington County jury following a week long trial. Wilkes was sentenced to 45 years for the stabbing and beating death of his wife, Susan Reynolds Wilkes, on June 11, 2014. Eleventh Circuit Chief Administrative Judge Eugene C. Griffith, Jr. imposed the sentence this afternoon. Wilkes is not eligible for parole.

Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “Domestic violence continues to be a serious problem in our state and in our four counties. Too often these incidents become deadly. Our office will always fight to stop domestic violence. Prosecuting these types of cases and domestic homicides are a priority. Hopefully this sentence sends a clear message to domestic abusers. Such acts of violence cannot be tolerated.”

The couple had been married for 34 years and resided together at 106 Linnet Drive in the West Columbia area of Lexington County. Wilkes originally reported his wife as “missing” to law enforcement on June 14, 2014. He also contacted the victim’s family members and fabricated an explanation for her disappearance. An investigation by the West Columbia Police Department led to the arrest of Wilkes after his wife’s body was found buried on property located at 127 Gardenia Court in Little Mountain, South Carolina. The shallow grave, discovered on June 18, 2014, was unmarked.

Wilkes confessed to killing his wife during an interview with Captain Bruce Wade of the West Columbia Police Department. The audio recorded statement was offered as evidence during the trial. Wilkes admitted to using a blunt force instrument to strike his wife multiple times in the head and to stabbing her with a knife. Investigators determined that Wilkes discarded evidence items associated with the crime. Surveillance video recovered from the River Chase Collection Center depicted Wilkes throwing various items into a trash compactor on June 13, 2014.

An autopsy revealed that Susan, age 59, had sustained a stab wound to the heart and multiple blows to her head. The head injuries included skull fractures and multiple lacerations. Law enforcement determined that Susan was killed in the family home. Forensic analysis indicated that cleaning materials had been utilized to eliminate evidence from the crime scene.

This case was prosecuted by 11th Circuit Senior Assistant Solicitor Rhonda Patterson and Assistant Solicitor Gill Bell. The investigation was conducted by Inv. Thomas Griffin and Captain Bruce Wade of the West Columbia Police Department and the crime scene was processed by agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Senior Assistant Solicitor Rhonda Patterson stated, “We appreciate the hard work conducted by the West Columbia Police Department and SLED in this case which ultimately led to justice for Susan Reynolds Wilkes.”

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