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Guilty Plea in Elsmere Murder Case

A guilty plea came Thursday from the man accused in an Elsmere murder.

Michael Alan Wilcox, 28, from Brown County, Ohio, pleaded guilty to murder, robbery, and tampering with physical evidence in connection to the April 2015 slaying of Zachary Gilkison on Main Street in Elsmere. Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Emily Arnzen recommend a life sentence.

Wilcox is already serving a minimum of 18 years in Ohio for the murder of his girlfriend, Courtney Fowler, which is believed ot have happened the same say that Gilkison was killed.

Sanders said Gilkison was shot from behind multiple times with a .45 caliber handgun that Wilcox brought from his home in Ohio. Elsmere Police Sgt. Chad Carpenter found Gilkison’s body in the basement of Gilkison’s home after friends of Gilkison went to check on him. One of Gilkison’s friends saw news of Wilcox’s arrest in Ohio and grew concerned because Gilkison did not show up to dinner as they had planned. 

The friend was also aware Wilcox and Gilkison knew one another.

Sanders said Wilcox originally told investigators that lyrics to songs by rappers Drake and Lil’ Wayne told him to commit the murders but subsequent psychological evaluations revealed Wilcox was faking mental illness. “While drug abuse certainly contributed to Wilcox’s bizarre and violent behavior, he isn’t insane,” said Sanders, “but he’s never given law enforcement a plausible reason for either killing. Only Mr. Wilcox knows why he took the lives of two innocent people who, by all accounts, cared about him.”  When detectives asked Wilcox what kinds of drugs he was on at the time of the murders, Wilcox replied, “Everything”, according to police reports. Sanders said there was no evidence of any romantic relationship between Wilcox’s victims and even Wilcox denied revenge was his motive. 

“I wish we could answer all the questions I’m sure the victims’ families have,” said Sanders, “but all we can do is make sure Mr. Wilcox pays for his killings by spending the rest of his life behind bars.”

Sanders credited the guilty plea to an outstanding investigation by now-retired Elsmere Police Detective Dennis McCarthy who was assisted by investigators from Erlanger and Kenton County Police Departments. “Dennis made a career of great police work,” said Sanders, “and his last murder case may have been his best ever.” McCarthy retired January 1 after a 38-year career with multiple departments.

Sanders also credited Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Emily Arnzen with handling the bulk of the prosecution.  “She did the heavy lifting so all I had to do was show up if it went to trial,” Sanders said, “but her hard work is what got a Life sentence without need for a trial.”

Wilcox is scheduled for formal, final sentencing before Kenton Circuit Judge Greg Bartlett on March 28 at 9 a.m.

-Staff report

Photo: Michael Alan Wilcox (provided)