Wilder to plead guilty on murder charge

November 19, 2012 10:04:18 AM

Sarah Fowler - [email protected]


A Columbus man is expected to plead guilty to capital murder today in Lowndes County Circuit Court.  


Lee Major Wilder Jr., of 1508 15th Ave. N., was arrested and charged for the fatal shooting of a man in 2008.  


The murder was the result of an alleged robbery in which Wilder shot Cornelius Cunningham, 29, who was sitting outside his 2112 14th Ave. N., apartment on Sept. 18, 2008.  


Wilder was 20 at the time of his arrest.  


After his arrest, Wilder was mistakenly freed from a Walnut Grove correctional facility in November 2010, where he was serving time for another felony he committed in Hinds County. Wilder was released from the facility despite a no-release order from the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department. The mistake was noticed only after Wilder failed to appear in Lowndes County Circuit Court on the capital murder charge.  


Wilder was located and taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. on Nov. 23, 2011.  


Wilder could have faced the death penalty on the capital murder charge. He will be sentenced after his guilty plea.  


Joe Earl Smith also pleaded guilty to capital murder last week. He was charged with the 2010 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Linda Snell. He received life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.