Man sentenced to three years on weapons, abduction charges

By Joe Gorman


Just before he was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for holding several people hostage earlier this year in a South Side basement, Gregory Wilkerson apologized.

While it is typical for defendants to apologize in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before they are sentenced, Wilkerson said he does not remember anything that led up to his May 1 arrest at a home on East Philadelphia Avenue – where he surrendered to police with a beer in his hand – because of how much he had to drink.

“What I’m accused of doing, I don’t even remember it,” Wilkerson said. “That’s the honest-to-God truth. And if I did do it, I’m sorry.”

Reports said police were called to the home about 3 a.m., where Wilkerson was in a dispute with people who were in the home, and several people, including seven children, were all being held at gunpoint.

Police surrounded the home, and Wilkerson emerged from the basement holding a can of beer. He also had a 9 mm pistol with him, reports said.

Wilkerson has several felony convictions that prevent him from having a gun, and he told Judge Shirley Christian that the sentence he would be serving from her court will be the fourth time he’s been to prison.

Judge Christian said she was concerned because of Wilkerson’s past record, including past convictions for domestic violence.

“What is going to change if I put him away for three years?” Judge Christian asked.

Wilkerson said he is a changed man. He said he recently got married and that will change his behavior.

However, when Judge Christian told him he should take advantage of programs in prison to help him deal with anger and substance abuse, Wilkerson said he did not think much of them.

Wilkerson said in prison, inmates often go to a program just to go and get credits for it. He said prison does not change behavior.

“They’re no good,” Wilkerson said.

But Wilkerson said because he is now married, he has an incentive to behave because if he does not, he will be away from his wife again.

He said a program that would work is something that would have some sort of accountability, such as taking him away from his wife if he should fail.

Judge Christian told Wilkerson to get some help for anger management in prison, because he seems to have problems with both drinking and his temper.