JURY VERDICT: Winter Haven man guilty of attempted second-degree murder, armed trespass

When Markus Locke confronted his victim about stolen motorcycle parts and received an answer he didn’t like, he shot him twice.

Markus Locke, 26, of Winter Haven.

After two hours of deliberation, a jury convicted 26-year-old Locke Jan. 10 of attempted second-degree murder and armed trespass. He is facing between 25 years to life in prison and will be sentenced March 2.

Assistant State Attorney Melissa Buza took jurors back to the night of Aug. 23, 2017. Locke believed Tony Wilkerson had stolen motorcycle parts from him, so about 10:30 that night, Locke drove to Wilkerson’s house and began looking on his property without permission.

Wilkerson’s daughter said she saw a person with a flashlight in their front yard, so Wilkerson had his wife call 911 as grabbed a gun and went outside. He saw Locke standing in his front yard yelling and threatening to kill him.

Locke accused Wilkerson of stealing his motorcycle parts.

Wilkerson, who did not have any of the parts in his possession, told Locke that the police had already been called and that he should leave. But before Wilkerson could finish his sentence, Locke raised a gun and fired two shots at him.

The bullets struck Wilkerson in his left arm and in his lower back.

Wilkerson fell to the ground and returned fire at Locke, who immediately jumped into his vehicle and left. The entire incident was captured on home security cameras.

In initial interviews with detectives, Locke said Wilkerson never invited him over to the house. He admitted that he knew his actions were wrong and that he did not have the right to be at Wilkerson’s house that night.

When Locke took the stand during the two-day trial, his testimony contradicted the statements he gave law enforcement. He claimed that he’d been invited over by Wilkerson but that he shouldn’t have gone over with a gun if he really thought his things had been stolen.

But Locke’s motorcycle parts had been stolen, and he thought Wilkerson was the one who took them, Buza told jurors.

“He was mad, and he wanted his stuff back,” she said.

Assistant State Attorney Melissa Buza addresses jurors during her closing statements Jan. 10. The jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Locke guilty as charged.

The defense claimed that Locke, who brought his fiancée with him to retrieve the parts, reacted in self-defense because Wilkerson pulled a gun out first. Locke’s attorney said that he acted in fear and only used enough force to protect himself and his fiancée so they could get out of the situation.

But in her closing argument, Buza told jurors that the defense’s claims were unreasonable.

“So he went with a firearm, but he’s so afraid that he goes there with someone he loves and puts them both in danger?” She said. “And then he claims he’s acting in self-defense because a homeowner comes out with a gun behind his back after hearing someone in his yard.”

“Locke has given you two different stories that completely contradict themselves,” Buza said, adding that she was confident the evidence would point to only one verdict: guilty.