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Randon Wilkerson found guilty for 2021 murder of Delmar Police Corporal Keith Heacook

Sussex County Courthouse at the Georgetown Circle
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
Sussex County Courthouse at the Georgetown Circle

Randon Wilkerson is found guilty for the 2021 murder of Delmar Police Corporal Keith Heacook.

Wilkerson’s bench trial on 16 charges lasted just 90 minutes Monday in Sussex County Superior Court.

Wilkerson looked at his family as Judge Craig Karsnitz read the verdict – guilty on all counts - two first-degree murder charges, five counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, three counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, and two counts of first-degree assault.

Wicomico County Sherriff Mike Lewis says he is satisfied with the verdict, although nothing will bring Heacook back.

“What I would like to see is capital punishment, the death penalty being brought back," Lewis says. "This is a case that screamed for the death penalty. And that is exactly what this individual should get. But we all know that’s not the trajectory of our nation right now.”

Doug Marshall, founder of Heacook Fest, a festival in honor of Heacook, says his murder came at a time when public perception of police was negatively fueled by the George Floyd protests.

“Would I like to throw the switch on the electric chair? Of course, I would, but what does it do?" Marshall says. "What good are we doing here as a civilization if we can’t understand what is going on with these young men, how do you beat a man like that to the mutilation state? There are some people in society who think that police are the problem, but it’s obviously not. Keith Heacook was a very peaceful police officer, he diffused every situation. Randon Wilkerson decided to create that mutilation.”

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings delivers remarks after 16 guilty verdicts were handed down to Randon Wilkerson for, and in relation to, the 2021 murder of Delmar Police Corporal Kieth Heacook.
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings delivers remarks after 16 guilty verdicts were handed down to Randon Wilkerson for, and in relation to, the 2021 murder of Delmar Police Corporal Kieth Heacook.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings thanks the officers and investigators involved and says Wilkerson will never go free.

“He will serve, let me repeat this, he will serve the rest of his natural life in prison,” Jennings says.

Jennings says although Wilkerson plans to file an appeal, the DOJ is confident in the facts presented. A pre-sentencing investigation is underway and sentencing is scheduled for December 8.

Judge Karsnitz read witness accounts and evidence from a stipulation of facts before showing a 17-minute video of body camera footage from Wicomico County Deputy Sheriff Michael Houck as he and Delaware State Police Corporal James Wharton arrived on the scene.

Footage shows they found Heacook inside the residence lying face down in a pool of blood, his face cut and bruised, and unresponsive. Houck dragged Heacook from the living room to the front lawn of the house where he and another officer performed CPR. Heacook was taken from the scene by ambulance and died three days later.

The following is a summary of events according to the stipulation of facts agreed upon and signed by the state and the defense:

Corporal Kieth Heacook was dispatched to the Sussex County residence at 5:14 a.m. on April 15, 2021, arriving just before 5:30 a.m., but did not respond when dispatchers tried to contact him again. Wharton and Houck arrived on scene at 5:48 a.m., to find Heacook minutes later, his face beaten and bloodied, and unresponsive. Officers attempted to perform CPR but Heacook did not regain consciousness and he was taken from the scene by ambulance.

Six people were removed from the residence, all of whom would testify that Wilkerson had been doing drugs in the hours prior as well as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Toxicology would later confirm the presence of methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana in Wilkerson’s system.

The six witnesses in the home were located in the second-floor bedrooms – they said they had been hiding from Wilkerson, who was on a rampage. According to their witness statements, Wilkerson was throwing things around the house and beating on the upstairs doors. Wilkerson got into a fight with one of the roommates and punched him. That’s when other witnesses in the home tried to call 911, but heard Wilkerson say, “Who’s calling the f—ing cops, I’ll kill them.”

Witnesses say after Heacook’s arrival, they heard commotion downstairs, one later witnessing Heacook lying facedown on the floor and Wilkerson kicking him in the face.

Wilkerson then left and went to another nearby residence where an elderly couple live. Steven and Judith Franklin, 73 and 76 years of age, say in their statements that they let Wilkerson in their backdoor – he was knocking, asking for help. Then, unprovoked, Wilkerson punched both individuals and struck them with glass figurines.. Wilkerson eventually stopped and walked back across the street where police found him and arrested him behind the first residence.

At Troop 5, Wilkerson was placed in the detention area within earshot of the cells, where his girlfriend Amanda Rooks was in. Troops overheard Wilkerson say, ‘I beat the cop in the head, I smashed his head.’ A digital recorder set up after that reveals the following quotes:

“I killed him, I killed that b—h.”

“I smashed him over the head with the weight.”

“I killed that police officer that walked in that house.”

“I beat that man.”

After police interviewed Wilkerson, a phlebotomist came into the room to draw his blood per a search warrant for DNA evidence. After several attempts to find a vein, Wilkerson kicked her. An offensive touching charge was brought against Wilkerson for that – it was count 16 in Monday’s trial.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.