Matthew Wilks, 35, has been charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide in the August 30 road rage death of Tracey Smith. Smith, 46, was giving her 17-year-old son a driving lesson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when Wilks is accused of cutting their car off in traffic, causing a minor accident. “Bitch, I’ll kill you,” he screamed before fatally shooting Smith in front of her son, authorities say.
Wilks, a resident of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, faces several other felony charges including possession of a firearm by a felon, and cocaine and narcotics possession with intent to deliver. He could receive a life sentence if convicted.
“I don’t know what to say, but I know one thing, the way my daughter lost her life. it wasn’t right. It ain’t right,” Smith’s father Ollie Luckett told WISN.
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Commissioner David Sweet echoed that sentiment as Wilks stood before him in court. “Just a senseless loss of life here, as alleged, over what appears to be a minor traffic accident.”
Here’s what you need to know about Matthew Wilks.
1. Wilks Is Accused of Clipping Tracey Smith’s Car While Making a Turn
On the afternoon of Friday, August 30, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Smith and her son were on their way to the clothing store Playmakers. Smith’s son was behind the wheel as she gave him a driving lesson on the way. According to her son, who has not been identified because of his age, he was making a left-hand turn from 51st Boulevard onto W. Fond du Lac Avenue when their vehicle was clipped by a gold van that cut them off.
Smith’s son stopped the car in the middle of the intersection and Smith got out to inspect the right passenger side. Wilks also stopped, stood on his van’s foot railing, and briefly watched.
When Smith saw the damage, the two exchanged words. “Bitch, I’ll kill you,” Wilks yelled just before pulling out a gun and shooting Smith in the chest, authorities say. “He shot me,” Smith’s son heard his mother say before she collapsed in the street.
2. Tracey Smith’s Son Drove His Mother to the Hospital & Later Identified Wilks as the Shooter
After the shooting, Wilks is accused of getting back into his van, made a U-turn and fled the scene. Bystanders helped Smith’s son put his mother in the car and he rushed her to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she died minutes later. The bullet fired by Wilks had perforated her heart and left lung.
Police identified the vehicle’s license plate after spotting it on surveillance footage. Department of Transportation records traced the tag back to a 2004 GMC Savana owned by Matthew Wilks. On August 31, Smith’s son positively identified Wilks in a police photo lineup.
3. Police Say They Discovered More Than Half a Pound of Cocaine When They Arrested Wilks
On September 1, Milwaukee police officers located Wilks standing outside of a house on the 3300 block of North Richards Street. Wilks, who is listed as living at a different residence, had a key to the home. Police obtained a search warrant for the Richards Street house and discovered a small safe wrapped up in a Joseph A. Bank XXL leather jacket, authorities say.
The safe allegedly contained a 9-millimeter handgun, a scale, over a half a pound of cocaine, and two plastic bags containing Ecstasy, Oxycodone, Amphetamine, and Dextroamphetamine. According to the police report, the number of drugs and their packaging was “consistent with street-level distribution.”
Wilks allegedly admitted to police that the safe was his and that he’d owned it for over 20 years. He is accused of saying, “Oh, you all found my 9?” referring to the loaded gun.
4. Matthew Wilks Has a Lengthy Criminal History
On February 8, 2008, Wilks was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of cocaine, second or subsequent offense. Before that conviction, Wilks had a lengthy criminal record that included arrests for battery and cannabis possession.
Wilks had also been arrested several times for driving with a revoked license and operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
Not much else is known about Matthew Wilks. His Linkedin page says that he’s been the CEO VVSVisionlife since 2009. The business is described as “spotlighting urban International import/export media.”
5. Tracey Smith Was a 23-Year Veteran of the Wisconsin State Department of Corrections
Smith was a sergeant with the Wisconsin State Department of Corrections, where she’d worked for 23 years, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Department of Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin A. Carr said her “contributions to the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility will be felt long after her passing,” Officer.com reported.
Smith’s father described her as a “beautiful person,” who was kind and compassionate. “She knew how to treat people. She knew how to talk to people. She was wonderful,” he told WISN.
“She made a life for her and her sons. I wake up every morning and it’s like, ‘Wow. Tracey is not here.’ I hate it. I hate it. I hate the way things are in this city,” Smith’s mother JoAnne Luckett shared with Fox 6 Now.