A former soldier pleaded guilty to killing a 2-year-old in a murder-for-hire plot concocted by the toddler's stepdad.
Zackery Alexander, 23, from Clarksville, Tennessee, entered the plea on June 18 to avoid the risk of getting the death penalty at a trial, according to court records cited by The Leaf-Chronicle. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, plus 66 years.
Alexander and David Wi were both soldiers at at Fort Bragg, and Wi hired Alexander to murder his estranged ex-wife Alicia Bankston Wi, her new boyfriend Brandon Jiminez, David Wi's infant daughter Lilly Wi, and the 2-year-old, Joseph Bankston, police said. Wi pleaded guilty in October of 2016 and got sentenced to life in prison plus 50 years.
Wi, pictured below, was embroiled in a custody battle with his ex, according to ClarksvilleNow.com, and he was the beneficiary of life insurance policies on his wife, daughter and 2-year-old Bankston.
On the night of Oct. 4, 2015, Alexander went to David Wi's mother-in-law's house, where Alicia Bankston was staying after separating from Wi. Alexander knocked on the door and Brandon Jiminez greeted him. Alexander asked for jumper cables, police said, and then he opened fire, shooting Jiminez several times. The boy was shot in the back of the head in his grandmother's room. Alicia Bankston hid in a bedroom with the infant girl and wasn't hurt. Jiminez also survived. Bankston's mother was in the bathroom, police said, and wasn't hurt.
Police questioned the surviving victims of the shooting and drew a sketch of Alexander, according to WKRN-TV in Nashville. They matched the sketch to a photograph and identified him as a suspect. When police went to question Alexander, they searched his car and found a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson M&P, which matched the shell casings at the scene of the murder.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder for the death of the toddler. He also pleaded to two counts of attempted murder for trying to kill Alicia Bankston and her daughter Lilly, and aggravated assault.
[Photos: Clarksville Police Department]