Local News

Psychiatrist: Wilkinson is Depressed, But Not Incompetent

Posted May 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Philip Wilkinson narrowly escaped execution because he said he wanted to die. Now, his pleas for life may put him back on death row.

Wilkinson, a convicted murderer, spent Thursday morning in front of a Cumberland County Superior Court judge at a hearing to determine his mental competency. A psychiatrist took the stand saying he had interviewed Wilkinson three times in April. In those interviews, he said he found that Wilkinson was suffering from depression, but that it did not keep him from making rational decisions or from knowing his options.

That would have been enough to send him back to death row, but Wilkinson and his lawyers announced that he now wants to fight the death penalty.

Family and friends of the victims, Judy Hudson and her two children, say they were not surprised by this move, but were disappointed. Monika Johnson, a friend of Hudson, said she has very mixed feelings.

Hudson and her children were beaten to death with a bowling pin. Wilkinson came forward years ago confessing to the crime. Up until last month, he said he wanted to die for it.

Thursday, Judge Gregory Weeks gave Wilkinson another 90 days to arrange for a death penalty appeal.

State Attorney Tommy Hicks says he thinks the judge was fair.

Johnson says she thinks the judge took any possible chance of peace away from Hudson's family.

Wilkinson and his defense team now have 90 days to file an appeal with the court system. At that time, the court will decide whether or not he will get another stay of execution.