Letter: 'We are asking for justice'

ANDERSON — Friends and family are hoping a judge carefully reads their letters before sentencing the man who took Uriah Wilson’s life.

More than a dozen people wrote victim impact letters to Madison Circuit Court Division 4 Judge David A. Happe on behalf of Wilson.

Happe will sentence Joseph M. Hartley at 1:30 p.m. today for a Level 3 felony battery that resulted in Wilson’s death.

Hartley, of Pendleton, accepted a plea agreement Nov. 3. He was originally charged with murdering Wilson, 29, on Dec. 7, 2017, after a violent altercation between the two men who were allegedly drinking.

Friends say the men were friends at Pendleton Heights High School, but Hartley had moved to Germany since the two graduated from school together. Hartley was visiting family in Markleville on the night Wilson died.

When police arrived, a bloody Hartley was performing CPR on Wilson who had been strangled to death with a belt.

Hartley told police Wilson attacked him and pointed a gun at him. Fearing for his life, Hartley told police that he acted in self-defense, according to police records.

More than a dozen people shared letters with Happe about Wilson and the different ways in which he touched their lives.

“He was a person who loved those around him and who trusted those he was close to,” said his ex-wife, Ethany Reeder. “I have been devastated by his death.

“Never in my life have I experience anything quite this terrible. Even in death, Uriah still teaches me about life in ways that I never thought possible.”

Andy Nelson, Wilson’s brother-in-law, wrote about Wilson’s death creating a void in his family’s life and how Wilson was a “truly remarkable and loving person.”

“While nothing can bring Uriah back, my only hope going forward is that this letter provides a glimpse into the incredible person that was Uriah and that it helps in ensuring some justice is served today,” Nelson wrote.

Wilson was described as bright, intelligent and a fun loving man who served his country in the United States Marine Corps and then his community as a correctional officer for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He was often described by those who loved him as a quiet man offering words of observation or standing up for those who could not stand up for themselves.

They said he loved to read and care for animals. He was strong, compassionate, courageous and brave.

Jonathan Wilson said his favorite picture was that of his nephew holding a desert owl while in Iraq.

“He was out on patrol and came across this little desert owl,” he said. “Here is this hardcore marine, fully strapped and all geared up for battle, and he’s holding this cute little baby bird.

“Only Uriah would stop in the middle of a warzone to help a baby bird; that was so…him.”

Retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Torain S. Kelley also wrote a letter to the court on behalf of Wilson.

“His loyalty and service to his family, friends and to our nation was without equal and his love for them was equally executed in that same manner,” Kelley said.

Nancy Wilson, Wilson’s grandmother, echoed many of the things said by family and friends and closed her letter by saying, “we are not seeking vengeance, but we are asking for justice.”

Follow Traci L. Miller @_TraciMiller on Twitter, email her at traci.miller@heraldbulletin.com, or call her at 765-640-4805.

Recommended for you