CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) – A 22-year-old St. Louis County apologized and asked forgiveness from his girlfriend’s family before being sentenced Monday in her February 2014 murder.
A St. Louis County circuit judge sentenced Benjamin Wilkinson to 17 years in prison after a jury convicted him in December 2015 of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. Wilkinson was originally charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of April Ward.
Ward, 25, was shot around 1:20 a.m. on Tuesday, February 18 at a home in the 700 block of Dallas Drive in the Bella Villa municipality. Ward’s two children, ages 6 and 2 at the time, were asleep in another bedroom at the time of the shooting and were unharmed.
Wilkinson said he and Ward were playing a game with a .25-caliber handgun and that she was unintentionally shot. Ward’s family had long doubted that claim.
Prosecutors said Wilkinson will receive credit for time served – about two years.