Jury selection begins Monday in 2017 Rhea County slaying

Jury selection begins Monday in 2017 Rhea County slaying

June 17th, 2019 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

CORRECTION; The story was corrected to state that Thomas Richard Wilkey was once a reserve deputy under a previous sheriff. The previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Patricia Wilkey was a reserve deputy and she was not.

Contributed mugshot from the Rhea County Sheriff's Office

Contributed mugshot from the Rhea County Sheriff's Office

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of a Rhea County, Tennessee, woman charged in the 2017 death of her husband.

Patricia Kaye Wilkey, 52, is being tried in the shooting death of her husband, 51-year-old Thomas Richard Wilkey Jr., whose body was found at the couple's home on Dayton Mountain on April 24, 2017.

Authorities said he'd been shot twice in the head and wrapped in garbage bags and tape. Patricia Wilkey was arrested the day he was found.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney Mike Taylor said Thursday he planned to help Assistant District Attorney David Shinn with jury selection because the process potentially could take considerable time as lawyers winnow the pool down to 12 peers and a couple of alternates.

"Both of them [the defendant and victim] come from large families that are related to other large families in the county," Taylor said of the need for a thorough vetting. Two panels of potential jurors have been called for the trial to make sure there are enough people to fill the jury box.

The deceased man worked for a period as a reserve deputy under then- sheriff Leon Sneed, who held the office until 2010, according to officials.

Taylor said at the time that the Wilkeys had married, divorced and remarried over the years.

Investigators said she admitted she shot her husband.

According to authorities and court records early in the investigation, Thomas Richard Wilkey Jr.'s body was found at the couple's home on Walkertown Road on Dayton Mountain around 11 a.m. on April 24, 2017.

When deputies arrived, they found Thomas Wilkey with "obvious trauma to the head" wrapped in garbage bags and tape, according to an affidavit filed in Rhea County Criminal Court. Patricia Wilkey told Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents she shot him twice in the head while he was in bed, then she wrapped him up in garbage bags, the affidavit states.

Afterward, Wilkey tossed the weapon into the Tennessee River at the Tennessee Highway 60 bridge and threw her husband's clothing off a bluff on Graysville Road in Bledsoe County. The clothing was recovered, the affidavit states.

Patricia Wilkey was the person who called 911 to report what was initially dispatched as a suicide, Taylor said the day after her arrest.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.


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