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WJBD - Local News - Charles Wilken Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter

Charles Wilken Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

A 56-year-old Centralia man has been sentenced to five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the March 30th shooting death of his 21-year-old daughter Chelsea at their home.  

Charles Wilkin received the sentence as part of a negotiated plea entered in Marion County Court on Thursday during his final pre-trial hearing.  A charge of first degree murder was dropped as part of the agreement.   

Wilkin admitted to picking up a gun, pointing it at his daughter, and pulling the trigger while the two were involved in what he termed a 'mild disagreement' over household chores and cleaning up the house.  However, Wilkin maintains he thought the gun was unloaded and pointed it at his daughter as a joke.  

Wilkin had called 911 after the shooting and said he had accidentally shot his daughter.   After efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful, she was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest.  

The information was all read to the court by State's Attorney Matt Wilzbach as the statement of fact before Judge Michael McHaney accepted the plea.  When asked if the facts were correct, Wilkin replied 'Yes, your honor.'  

Public defender Matt Chancey's request for a short furlough for Wilkin before he had to report to prison to get his affairs in order was rejected by the judge.  Chancey noted Wilkin had lived his entire life in Centralia except while away at college, had been steadily employed since graduating from college, and owns the home he lived in Centralia.  Chancey says Wilkin is going to lose the home and has a lot of personal items to move out.  The public defender also maintained Wilkin was not dangerous or a threat.  Wilzbach questioned the necessity of the furlough, that the case involved the firing of a gun, and questioned the necessity of the release before reporting to prison.   In rejecting the furlough, McHaney cited the seriousness of the crime.  

Wilkin will have to serve two years mandatory released after getting released from prison.  He was also ordered to pay court costs.   Wilkin has 30 days to ask for the plea to be withdrawn.   

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