South Bay News

San Jose crime spree suspect appears in court

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Jonathan Wilbanks and second suspect Jonathan Wilbanks and second suspect

An accused killer in San Jose faced a judge Wednesday for the first time since his arrest. Jonathan Wilbanks is accused of a deadly crime spree that resulted in the death of Rory Park-Pettiford.

Wilbanks walked into court with his head down, his demeanor in sharp contrast to the one San Jose police described Friday night. The 26-year-old faces eight felony counts including murder with special circumstances, for the senseless killing of Park-Pettiford in a 7-Eleven parking lot.

Park-Pettiford's family and close friends were not in court Wednesday because they were busy planning a memorial service for Saturday.

Asked what Wilbank's state of mind is, public defender Charles Hendrickson replied, "Extremely remorseful." Wilbanks is accused of a violent crime spree that not only included the murder of Park-Pettiford, but also four armed robberies, assault with a firearm on an officer, and the attempted murder of a peace officer.

Deputy District Attorney James Leonard says it is fortunate there was only one murder. "It would be nice if he really was remorseful, but I can't comment one way or the other. All I can say is the officer that was fired upon had round after round raining down on him," he said.

If convicted, the death of Park-Pettiford alone makes this a possible death penalty case, a decision the district attorney will make at a later time. Asked if Wilbanks realized the seriousness of the charges, Leonard only replied, "I don't have anything else to say other than what I just said. Thank you much."

Police are still looking for a second suspect, the man they say was with Wilbanks Friday night and got away. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture and conviction. "This is somebody who but for the grace of God, this officer could have been killed. We have no reason not to suspect he wouldn't try to do the same thing again. We're trying to find him as quickly as we can," Leonard said.

Wilbanks did not enter a plea to any of the eight counts against him. He is scheduled to do that on Dember 25.

Anyone with information on the alleged crimes or the identity and whereabouts of the second suspect should contact San Jose police Detective Sgt. Craig Storlie at (408) 277-5283. Anonymous tips can be made by calling (408) 947-7867 or go to www.tipsubmit.com.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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san jose, shooting, crime, south bay news, karina rusk
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