Jurors in New York have handed down a rare death sentence to Ronell Wilson, convicted of killing two undercover detectives. What makes this even more interesting is that this was the second death sentence he was given. Federal prosecutors took the trial from the state of New York due to that state’s highest court striking down capital punishment. The US government successfully garnered a conviction and death sentence for Wilson, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it due to the prosecutor informing the jury that if Wilson had any remorse for his crime, he would have taken the stand. Kind of makes the Fifth Amendment pointless if the jury deliberates with this in mind.
His crime was particularly brutal:
On March 10, 2003, Mr. Wilson killed Detective Andrews, 34, and Detective Nemorin, 36, who were participating in a sting operation to buy an illegal gun. He shot each once in the back of the head at point-blank range on a secluded street on Staten Island.
Prosecutors would paint a remorseless picture of Wilson:
Prosecutors argued that prison alone would not do. The prosecutors showed a dramatic video of several guards at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn storming into a recreation pen to retrieve Mr. Wilson, who had refused to be handcuffed. When the guards emerged from the pen with Mr. Wilson, he smiled.
One of their witnesses described seeing a guard, Nancy Gonzalez, walk away from Mr. Wilson’s cell one day, leaving him there with his pants down and his genitals exposed. Mr. Wilson had several sexual encounters with Ms. Gonzalez, fathering a child, Justus, who was born in March.
The jury, in considering mitigating factors, including
Mr. Wilson’s difficult childhood, during which he shuttled between relatives as his mother, an alcoholic and drug addict, was often absent. He spent years in an overcrowded and squalid home, where the adults who influenced him were criminals.
Life in prison was punishment enough, Mr. Wilson’s lawyers argued, for someone who never really had a chance.
This was a very emotional trial for all involved in New York. Read more about it here, thanks to Mosi Secret of the New York Times.