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Man pleads no contest in Michigan woman’s 1987 slaying

Prison bars
Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 17:14:03-04

NILES, Mich. (AP) — An Indiana man pleaded no contest Friday in the 1987 killing of a woman whose husband found her dead in their southwestern Michigan home after a night of bowling.

Patrick Gilham, 67, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and has agreed to a minimum 23-year prison sentence, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office said in a news release. The South Bend man is set for sentencing on April 25 in Niles.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is used as such at sentencing.

Gilham was arrested last month on charges of open murder and breaking and entering of an occupied dwelling in the killing of Roxanne Leigh Wood, 30.

Her husband, Terry Wood, found her dead, with her throat cut, in their Niles Township home early on Feb. 20, 1987, after they had driven separately to go bowling and his wife returned home first.

Authorities allege Gilham forcibly entered the couple’s home before he encountered Roxanne Wood and killed her.

Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Vigansky said prosecutors offered Gilham the plea agreement after consulting with Roxanne Wood’s relatives, including Terry Wood.

“This sentence agreement effectively keeps Mr. Gilham in prison for the rest of his life. This plea will allow the family to have some closure and continue to work on healing from this tragic murder,” Vigansky said in the prosecutor’s office’s news release.