Michael Wilkins, Klansman and convicted murderer, coming up for parole

The Pitch, Kansas City/February 3, 2011

A convicted murderer and member of the Ku Klux Klan is coming up for parole in March, and you have a say in whether he gets out.

Michael Dean Wilkins, 39, was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting and killing 25-year-old David Shipley in 1993. Wilkins' story is definitely one of intrigue. Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier wrote in a 2007 decision on Wilkins' appeal: "In brief, Wilkins' 1996 convictions involved murder, sex, drugs, and the Ku Klux Klan." Sounds like the makings of an FX TV series.

From the Lawrence Journal-World:

Wilkins shot Shipley, a fellow member, in the head with a .22-caliber rifle. Prosecutors said the killing was based on an order from the group's leader, Mike Bittle, who eventually reached a plea deal with prosecutors and testified against Wilkins.

According to the department of corrections, Bittle served eight years in prison for a conspiracy conviction and died in 2008 while he was on parole.

Authorities believed Bittle and Shipley had differences over girls and money from the sale of motorcycles. Witnesses said Shipley threatened to tell police about Bittle's marijuana growth operation. Shipley's remains were found in 1996 in a rural pond on property owned by Wilkins' family in southeastern Jefferson County.

Wilkins was reportedly the "enforcer" of a Klan group out of Davenport, Iowa. But Wilkins went on recruiting trips to Lawrence, Kansas, to sign up teenage girls.

The Journal-World reports that even if Wilkins is granted parole, he still has 11 years behind bars to serve for convictions of conspiracy and aggravated robbery. If you have feelings about Wilkins' parole -- like, say, eff no he shouldn't get out after shooting a guy in the head -- you can make them on the Kansas Department of Corrections' website or during his hearing before the parole board, which will render a decision in April.

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