HOUSTON – An investigation into the death of a man who was shot and killed at his family’s auto mechanic shop in Humble has uncovered that the crime may have started over a property dispute, according to court documents.
Dwayne Wilkerson was gunned down at Lewis Ace Automotive, which was owned by his father, Leonard Lewis.
William Leroy Penn, 51, has been charged with felony murder.
On April 11, Humble police were dispatched to the business located at 306 First St. and found Wilkerson lying dead next to his vehicle. He was working there as a mechanic.
Several witnesses, at least four of them, told investigators what they saw and heard, which was corroborated by several surveillance videos in the area.
The witnesses, who each had a different vantage point, reported hearing several gunshots and seeing a black Nissan Altima speeding away.
At least one of them saw a man, described as heavy-set with a bald head and a beard, walk from around the corner of the building and hop into the passenger side of the Nissan.
Two of the witnesses reported hearing “No! No!” before the shots rang out.
After the shooting, a witness at a nearby shopping strip went to the automotive shop and found Wilkerson lying on the ground.
Surveillance video helped put together some of the timeline.
According to police, video shows the Nissan Altima pulling into the parking lot next door to the mechanic shop.
It then shows a man, later identified as Penn, walking up to the passenger side of Wilkerson’s vehicle, then lifting up his shirt, appearing to pull something from underneath it.
The suspect is then seen walking away and hopping into the Nissan, which sped off, turning onto First St. then heading eastbound.
The video also showed unique features of the vehicle, including chrome rims, a sunroof with a vent shade, a spoiler on the trunk, and a white-colored device with the appearance of an EZ tag at the top of the windshield.
Further investigation led police to look at Penn as a possible suspect.
They went to his address, where they found a Nissan matching the description of the getaway vehicle.
Investigators said they asked Penn if he had driven to a shop and met with someone, to which he responded, “some people pointing fingers at me.” Penn then made a motion with his hand like he was pulling the trigger of a handgun.
Investigators said Penn was then asked if someone pointed a gun at him, at which time he responded, “pointing guns and fingers.”
Penn claimed people have put “hits” on him, and had gone to his apartment every night, and he “marked them,” according to court documents.
Investigators asked Penn if he had a gun, which he denied, and allowed detectives to search his apartment.
Although no guns were found, Penn admitted to the clothing he wore that day, which matched the clothing the suspect seen on video was wearing.
During questioning, Penn would not admit to having anything to do with guns, nor would he admit that he confronted Wilkerson. Instead, he continually commented that he had to defend himself from a big family of criminals from the Virgin Islands, which is where he is from, investigators said.
Investigators said that Wilkerson’s father is also from the Virgin Islands.
Penn’s girlfriend was also questioned by investigators. At first, she denied knowing anything, but investigators had surveillance video which showed that she and Penn arrived home, together, less than five minutes after the shooting.
Further probing led to both Penn and the girlfriend admitting to her being the driver on the day of the shooting, however, Penn was adamant that she did not know what was going to happen.
As for a motive, Penn tied it to his longtime relationship with the victim’s father.
Penn allegedly admitted that he has known the father since he was a small child, and that he even grew up around the mechanic shop.
Penn said there was an ongoing dispute over property in the Virgin Islands that he was supposed to inherit, but claimed that Lewis and “his gang” wanted to prevent him from gaining his inheritance by putting him “in a body bag,” according to documents.
Penn admitted that, on the day of the shooting, he went to the mechanic shop to confront Lewis, but said “things just spread out of control because of those brothers.”
When asked what what happened next, Penn told investigators he had to “defend myself, man,” and it was “life or death, man.”
Penn said Wilkerson was reaching in his vehicle and he believed Wilkerson was going to shoot him first.
He then told investigators, “I might have to go to the penitentiary,” documents state.
The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Wilkerson’s death a homicide.
Penn was arrested and charged on April 13.