Joseph Wilkes (Joe) was arrested on July 14, 1999, for the aggravated murder of Yvonne Layne. Joe was a high school dropout who had just turned 18 at the time of the crime. His I.Q. was lower than normal and in grade school he was evaluated as having a severe behavioral handicap and was labeled emotionally disturbed. It was also well known by people that knew Joe that his hands shook. Joe spent most of his childhood years bouncing between foster homes and his parents’ home. Joe was abused physically, emotionally and sexually as a child. Joe often did drugs, particularly acid and cocaine. Beginning in September 1997, Joe lived wherever he could. He’d live with friends if they’d let him and would bounce around.
Joe originally met David at a friend’s party. Joe was intrigued by the shoot fighting sport, which David took part in. David taught Joe some shoot fighting moves. Joe had met Yvonne on about 2 or 3 occasions. Twice he was with David and once he went to her house alone.
After receiving the tip from Rose Mohr that Joe stated he was in town to do a job, the police brought Joe in for questioning. They explained to Joe that David had requested immunity and that he was in another room ratting Joe out. The police then explained to Joe exactly what they believed happened, spoon feeding him his confession (click here to read police report from Thorne Immunity narrative statement). Joe then repeated the same exact story, confessing to the crime so that he would not be put to death. He took a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against David, whom he thought had pointed his finger at him. Joe testified at David’s trial that David hired him to kill Yvonne. On July 18, 2001, Joe Wilkes recanted his confession. He stated he did not kill Yvonne and that David never hired him to do so. He further stated in the Affidavit that he only confessed because the police told him David had accused him of the crime and he was afraid of being sentenced to death.