Brothers charged with killing Philly cop expected to take plea deal

"To sit here and just smear what [my brother] stood for, it's a smack in the face."

Kristen Johanson
June 24, 2018 - 11:54 pm
Robert Wilson III

Philadelphia Police Department

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  It was a Friday around 4 p.m. 

Constance Wilson was in a hospital bed with granddaughter Shaki'ra Wilson-Burroughs by her side. Constance Wilson's cellphone rang. On the other line: Anthony Voci, chief of the homicide unit at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. He asked Constance Wilson if she was sitting down. 

She replied, "Yes, I am in a hospital bed." Voci hesitated, and told her he was going to call her right back. Then, Shaki'ra Wilson-Burroughs' phone rang. It was Voci. He told Shaki'ra Wilson-Burroughs the news, "as if he were telling me the weather outside, it was so matter of fact," she said.

Shaki'ra Wilson-Burroughs' heart sank into her stomach. She asked him to repeat it. He did.

They are going to offer a plea deal, with the sentence of life plus 50 to 100 years.

Voci, she said, then asked if they were going to be there, and Shaki'ra Wilson-Burroughs replied, "Of course."

He got off the phone, she said, never asking how she felt or what she thought.

She told Constance Wilson the news.

It was the first time in four months they have heard from anyone in the district attorney's office, she added.

Hours later, Philadelphia police union President John McNesby called the news "insane."

"Anybody that watched that video could see exactly what Robert Wilson did for the community that day in saving lives," he said. "You can turn around and watch that video, it's truly tough to look at but he's a true hero. It's tough to have our officers go out there every day and try and protect the community knowing they don't have the support from the district attorney's office."

The next day, Wilson-Burroughs addressed reporters, calling the news "ridiculous."

"My brother was a hero, and to sit here and just smear what he stood for, it's a smack in the face. It's disrespectful and it's ignorant, point blank," she said.

Former Mayor Michael Nutter, who was the city's mayor at the time of Wilson's death, tweeted:

RELATED: 'It's ridiculous': Family of slain Philadelphia police officer upset over plea deal

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On March 28, the two women sat in a courtroom at Philadelphia's Criminal Justice Center to see what was going to happen in the murder case of their beloved Robert. They hadn't heard anything since the prior district attorney, Kelley Hodge, locked in the death penalty case, when Judge Kathryn Streeter-Lewis denied the defense's motion to block prosecutors from moving forward with the death penalty.

The Wilson family met with the new District Attorney Larry Krasner at the end of February inside their home. A spokesman for the district attorney's office said they met for more than two hours with several high-staff members, and both Constance Wilson and Shaki'ra told the district attorney they wanted a death penalty case.

In February 2015, just before Wilson was shot and killed, Gov. Tom Wolf put a temporary halt on executions until the completion of a six-year-long study. The report is focused on whether capital punishment reduces crime and whether it is constitutional.

It is, however, still Pennsylvania law, and anyone convicted of killing a police officer in state faces the death penalty.

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Wilson was inside the GameStop store on Lehigh Street, near 21st Street, buying a video game for his son, who was excelling in school and had a birthday coming up.

It was March 5, 2015, around 5 p.m. Snow was falling rapidly outside.

In the middle of being helped by an employee, two armed men came barreling through the doors.

Detectives said surveillance cameras capture Wilson directing the gunfire toward himself, as he yells at the other to get down to the ground and run out the door.

Wilson took six shots from both guns on location. His partner, Damien Stevenson, was in the patrol car when he heard the commotion inside. 

When he ran in, Wilson was on the ground. Stevenson was able to fire off rounds, striking one of the suspects.

Investigators said the suspect hit was Carlton Hipps.

Williams, they said, was hiding behind the counter with one of the store clerks.

Now 33 years old, Hipps has a list of prior arrests, including a 2004 robbery and illegal weapons convictions.

Both Hipps and Williams were charged with murder, robbery and other related offenses.

The Wilson family has called on the state attorney general to take over the case, citing what they believe is conflict of interest.

Michael Coard, a Krasner supporter, friend and part of his transition team, is the defense attorney for Hipps.

Legal experts, however, said any notion of a "conflict of interest" would have had to be disclosed early in the case, and the district attorney would have had to step aside. Now convicted Seth Williams was the district attorney at the time Wilson was killed.

The Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby was hoping to get the murder case moved to another county.

The deal will now be presented to both defendants and to the judge to be formally accepted. 

Once it is, Constance Wilson and Shaki'ra Wilson-Burroughs will be able to tell a judge how Wilson's death has impacted them.