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A Community Bids Goodbye to C.J.; Accused Murderer Appears in Court

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WAKE FOREST — The man many believe murdered C.J. Wilkerson is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to the crime, just one day after family and strangers came together to say goodbye to the little boy.

Four months of searching for C.J. ended last week whenhis body was foundin a green suitcase, in a wooded area along Tryon Road in Raleigh.

"This is definitely a tragedy that has brought everybody together," said Wallace Montague, a family friend.

The mourners for 9-year-old C.J. kept coming and coming.

"Like they say, 'A family that prays together stays together.' And I feel like it's not only the family, it's friends," Montague said.

All told, about 900 people showed up for C.J.'s funeral, led by his mother Tracey Gill and his father Clarence Wilkerson, who was wearing the familiar T-shirt dedicated to C.J.

There were lots of hugs to go around, plus lots of kids, kids who are probably used to going to funerals for grown-ups, but not for a friend, relative, or classmate.

Derrick Glover, C.J.'s stepfather, has been charged with kidnapping in the case. He will be in court Tuesday at 9:30, as the focus shifts to prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Sources say Glover will plead guilty to second degree murder in C.J.'s death. C.J.'s family says Glover struck a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Former Wake County prosecutor Randolph Riley says fear, coupled with the state's circumstantial evidence against Derrick Glover, which included a banged-up car and a missing piece of luggage, may have led to the plea bargain.

Riley says it is "better to have a lengthy sentence, maybe not quite fitting the enormity of the crime, than to have someone walk scot-free who you have every reason in your heart to believe committed a terrible crime."

C.J.'s parents are on record supporting the plea bargain. Riley says the parents' support is an integral part of sealing any plea bargain.

"Inevitably there'll be questions that will never be answered," Riley says.

Wayne Uber is with the victims' advocacy group "Helping All Loved Ones Survive" or "HALOS." His twin brother was missing for a week before his body was found. Uber says he understands why C.J.'s parents signed off on the plea bargain.

"I respect what they've had to go through, what they've done," Uber says. "They've said, 'Enough is enough.'

This was not the first time prosecutors offered Glover a deal.

Back in February, the district attorney's office offered him immunity from prosecution if he provided information that led to C.J.'s safe return. andKen SmithandRichard Adkins