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Life, 40-Year Sentences for Elsmere Killer, Covington Cop Shooter

The man who killed another man in Elsmere, and the man who shot at Covington officers, wounding a K9, received their sentences on Monday.

Michael Wilcox, 28, was sentenced to life in prison. He pleaded guilty last month to murder, robbery, and tampering with physical evidence in connection to the April 2015 slaying of Zachary Gilkison on Main Street in Elsmere. 

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.

Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob 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,” Sanders said at the time, “but all we can do is make sure Mr. Wilcox pays for his killings by spending the rest of his life behind bars.”

Meanwhile, a 40-year sentence was handed down to Daleon Rice, 35, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a police officer, attempted assault on a service animal, first degree assault, and persistent felony offender. 

In April, 2015, Rice fired upon Officer Michael Lusardi and his K9 partner, Ernie, when the officers attempted to serve a warrant related to the stabbing of Rice's mother. Lusardi was not hit, but Ernie suffered wounds. Lusardi returned fire and struck Rice in the foot but the suspect was able to flee the scene.

He was later captured that same day.

-Staff report

Photo: Wilcox (left) and Rice