Dana Wilkes murder trial underway; jury selection made - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dana Wilkes murder trial underway; jury selection made

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The murder trial for the man accused of killing and dismembering a Chattanooga dialysis worker is set to begin.

Tony Bigoms is charged with murder and abuse of a corpse. Investigators claim he decapitated Dana Wilkes in Nov. 2012 and mutilated her body.


The jury of 14, including nine men and five women, was sworn in on Tuesday afternoon. Jurors will be sequestered in a hotel without internet or TV until the trial is over. Testimony is expected to last through this week and possibly into next week.

Jury selection was the last task before the trial can begin Wednesday morning. The accused, Tony Bigoms, sat quietly with his attorneys from the public defender's office, dressed in a light blue shirt, tie and dress pants.

It's been a long year-and-a-half for Dana Wilkes' loved ones. After every court appearance and hearing, updates are posted on the "Justice for Dana Wilkes" Facebook page. Now, 17 months after her murder, is the final process before a shot at justice can come -- jury selection.

Fourteen people and two alternates will hear the case this week. Ninety-six potential jurors filled the courtroom Tuesday as lawyers asked questions, trying to find out who can weigh the facts of the case without any bias.

Bigoms was arrested two months after Wilkes' partial remains were found on the banks of S. Chickamauga Creek, near Youngstown Rd. back in Nov. 2012.

The 48-year-old Wilkes, who stood at just 4-feet-11 and weighed 100 pounds, had been missing for more than two weeks.

Wilkes' green Jeep Cherokee was found abandoned near Wilcox Tunnel with her blood spattered inside. Investigators found Bigoms' DNA on Wilkes' bra, which was 30 feet from her body. His DNA was also detected on a cigarette inside Wilkes' abandoned Jeep.

But this isn't the first time he's been through all the motions of a murder trial. Bigoms was acquitted in the 2002 murder of Dinah Burney. In that case, Bigoms' DNA was found in Burney's mouth and under her fingernails. Her body was dumped after being strangled.

In Dana Wilkes' case, her partial remains were dumped, and her head and hands were dismembered.

Back in 2007, Bigoms was convicted of sexual battery and sentenced to 8 years after forcing a woman to perform sex acts.

The trial is set to begin with opening statements Wednesday morning.


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