Man receives death sentence in Ole Miss student’s murder

Steven Wilbanks

OXFORD, Miss. — The man who fatally shot an Ole Miss graduate student in 2013 has been convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

The Oxford Eagle reported Steven “Matt” Wilbanks was found guilty by a 12-person jury Tuesday for the slaying of Zacharias Hercules McClendon.

After four hours of deliberations the jury sentenced him to death on Thursday, the newspaper reported in an update.

The state said Wilibanks, along with Joseph Lyons and Derrick Boone, entered McClendon’s apartment on December 18, 2013, and shot him in the back of the head with a 16-gauge shotgun while McClendon was washing dishes.

In an audio clip played on Monday, Wilibanks admitted to shooting McClendon with the gun he bought at a Hattiesburg gun show for $8 so he could steal from McClendon.

After the shooting, the three men reportedly stole the victim’s 2004 Nissan, clothing, electronics, credit cards and textbooks.

Lyons and Boone have already pleaded guilty under a deal that gave them life sentences.

According to reports, the jury could have sentenced Wilbanks to death or life in prison.