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Press Release

William D. Wood Jr. Enters Federal Guilty Plea in Chili’s Double Homicide Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – William D. Wood, Jr. pled guilty today to federal charges related to the September 2018 robbery and murders he committed at the Chili’s Grill and Bar in Dewitt, New York, announced Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Wood, age 35, of Syracuse, entered guilty pleas to three federal felonies: one count of robbery and two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and murder.  He admitted that in September 2018, he planned and carried out an armed robbery of the Chili’s in Dewitt, and that during the commission of the robbery he directly caused the deaths of two people by use of a firearm. 

Wood further admitted that during the early morning hours of September 15, 2018, armed with a loaded handgun, he forced his way into the back door of Chili’s, where four employees remained to close the restaurant.  Wood admitted that he held all four employees on the ground at gunpoint, and after obtaining the available cash from the restaurant’s safe, shot and killed Stephen Gudknecht and Kristopher Hicks.  Wood admitted that his gun malfunctioned as he attempted to shoot another employee, allowing time for that employee and a fourth employee to hide and flee from Wood.   

Wood’s sentencing is scheduled for December 29, 2021 before Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy in Binghamton, New York.   He faces maximum sentences of 20 years on the robbery conviction, and life on each of the two firearms offenses.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors; however, by statute, the sentences imposed on each count of conviction in this case must run consecutively to one another.  

Wood was previously sentenced in Onondaga County Court to life without parole following his plea of guilty to related state crimes, including two counts of Murder in the First Degree.  Wood will serve his state sentence first, and if ever released by New York State, he would be surrendered to federal custody to serve any undischarged portion of his federal term of imprisonment.   

This case was investigated by the ATF, the Town of Dewitt Police Department, and the New York State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa M. Fletcher and Michael D. Gadarian.

Updated August 23, 2021

Violent Crime