Defendant in Copper Top shootings says he is sentencing himself to death in letter to judge

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) -The man charged with attempted murder and other charges connected to the shooting spree at the Copper Top bar in Tuscaloosa in July of 2012 says he is sentencing himself to death.

That’s according to a letter filed in court documents associated with the case.

The handwritten letter is signed Nathan Wilkins and addressed to Judge Almond. It’s dated April 22nd and court records show it was electronically filed on April 30th.

The letter begins with this:

“I know I can’t get a fair trial in Tuscaloosa.”

Nathan Van Wilkins facing attempted murder and other charges in Copper Top and Northport Shootings from July 2012- Booking  photo courtesy of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office

Nathan Van Wilkins facing attempted murder and other charges in Copper Top and Northport Shootings from July 2012- Booking photo courtesy of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

It also contains the following:

“Why would I want a lawyer representing me who has me already convicted and sentenced me to life in his mind?”

Wilkins writes that he had asked for the death penalty early on. 

“Why send me to prison for life and support me with Taxpayer money. That used to make me so mad when I wasn’t in jail and paying Taxes and had to support people like that. You can ask anyone who knows me that this is what I believe. So I am Taking This out of your hands and sentencing myself to death.”

In the letter, Wilkins goes on to say the following:

“I want to say I’m sorry to everyone involved again. Thank you for giving me no other choice.”

Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge Brad Almond, who is assigned to the case, declined to comment on the letter.

Messages left for Wilkins’ court appointed attorney and the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s Office had not been returned by press time.

Wilkins trial is set to begin May 6th at 9 a.m. according to court records.

He is currently in the Tuscaloosa County Jail being held on bonds totaling $2,000,000 according to jail records.

“He is under constant observation in an isolated cell,” said Lt. Andy Norris, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

The day before the July 2012 rampage at the Copper Top bar in Tuscaloosa, there was another shooting at a home in Northport.  Wilkins is also charged in that attack. The victim, Bruce Bankhead, gave us his opinion about Wilkins’ death penalty request.

“Honestly a couple of months ago I would have said yeah give him the death penalty, now… it’s not up to me to decide. It’s up to a jury and it’s up to the judge and it’s in God’s hands. And he has to live with his decisions he’s made and I feel the death penalty is the easy way out. He caused me and other people a lot of pain and a lot of trauma and we have to live with it for the rest of our lives, why shouldn’t he?” said Bankhead.

The full letter can be viewed here: Nathan Wilkins’ letter to Judge Almond

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