Jury recommends death for Wade Wilson

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Nicholas Karsen
Published: Updated:

The jury has recommended that double-murderer Wade Wilson should be sentenced to death for the 2019 killings of two Cape Coral women.

The jury’s decision came Tuesday afternoon and was not unanimous.

They voted 9-to-3 in favor of the death penalty for the murder of Kristine Melton and 10-to-2 for the slaying of Diane Ruiz.

A new Florida law says it only takes eight of 12 jurors to recommend death for the penalty to be on the table.

They made their recommendation after an hour and 45 minutes of deliberations.

Now, the judge will consider their recommendation. He will be the ultimate decider on Wilson’s penalty.

The Spencer hearing has been scheduled for July 23. At this hearing, arguments and witness statements will be heard before the judge makes the final decision on whether or not Wilson gets life in prison or the death penalty.

Wilson has been incarcerated without bond since 2019.

The Domestic Call

This story began five years ago, after police were called to a domestic dispute.

Wilson was 25 at the time and was then arrested after witness testimonies detailed his savage attacks upon his girlfriend at the time in front of a business that she owned in October 2019.

Briefly following his arrest, Wilson was first named a person of interest in the recent murders of Melton and Ruiz.

WINK News spoke to Kelly Matthews, an ex-girlfriend of Wilson, on Oct. 11, 2019, who called Wilson a psychopath while detailing her ordeal with the man who was yet to be an accused killer.

Kelly Matthews and Wade Wilson (WINK News)

He told me he could either knock me out and tie me to a tree or he could tie me up in my car, so, obviously, I didn’t want him to hit my face, but he ended up hitting me in my face anyway, splitting my lip open. He tied me up in the back up my car, covered me with laundry so no one could see me and ended up driving me all the way to the Keys. Kelly Matthews

As the evidence continued to pour into this case, more of Wilson’s psychology came into full perspective.

In November 2019, a grand jury indicted Wilson on two counts of battery, one count of burglary of a dwelling, and one count of petit theft.

In 2020, Wilson’s trial was put on delay during the global coronavirus pandemic.

A Father’s Deposition

In 2022, Wilson’s trial began with bombshell information dropping about the double-murder case following the deposition report.

Wilson had pleaded not guilty to the killings; however, his father was called to give testimony regarding the case, in which he confirmed that Wilson admitted to every horrific detail revolving around the murders.

Wade Wilson 2019 Credit: The Lee County Sheriff’s Office

“He said that he went to some bar. Met a girl. And went home with her. That they hung out for a while. Went to sleep. And he got on top of her. And choked her until she died,” Wilson’s dad told investigators. “He said that he stayed in the house through the night, and he took her body and rolled it up in a rug. He was going to try and put her in her car, but she was too heavy, so he left the scene.”

Wilson’s father said his son had already been to prison once and was a suffering drug addict.

Wilson called a second time at dinner and said he needed help getting out of Fort Myers. He said he had done something he couldn’t take back, and people weren’t coming back from that.

Late that night, Wilson called his dad a third time. His dad said he needed to know what was going on. Wilson told him everything in detail.

Wilson left in the victim’s car. Hours later, he told his dad he was “Driving down the road and saw a lady walking. She asked for directions. He stopped, and she got in the car. He reached over with one hand as he was driving and choked her.”

Wilson’s father told investigators, “He thought she was dead and pulled into some woods where [he] was going to put her body,” but said when he pulled her out of the car, Wilson realized she was still alive.

Wilson’s father stated, “He said to me that he got back in the car, and he ran her over like spaghetti. Got out and moved her to the woods after that.”

Wilson’s stepmother had been listening to the entire call. They told a detective what was happening and gave them Wilson’s location.

Authorities then arrested Wilson.

Wilson’s dad said in the deposition that he asked his son why he did it, and Wilson replied, “I don’t know, dad. I don’t know why I did it. I just wanted to do it.”

The Legal Process and Tattoos

Further trial delays stemmed from Florida law changing the death penalty from a unanimous decision from the jury to eight out of the 12 jurors agreeing to the death sentence recommendation.

Wilson’s attorneys argued that their client should stand trial under the old guideline as that law had yet to be changed when he was first arrested.

From the time us his arrest in 2019 to 2024, Wilson had also undergone a metamorphosis physically.

While incarcerated, Wilson had begun to apply tattoos along his body, with the most notable being a swastika, which he added to his collection in 2019, soon after his arrest.

Wade Wilson in Lee County court is seen with a swastika tattoo on his head, 2019. Credit: WINK News.

In 2024, Wilson appeared in court with a fresh set of face tattoos, continuing his pattern of altering his appearance through body ink.

Wilson’s new face designs also include stitches extending past his mouth and the word “glory” on his temple.

Wilson was dressed in a formal suit in his recent court appearance on Monday, and his extensive facial and neck tattoos were prominently visible, despite his attempt to cover some of his more offensive tattoos with makeup.

His left face appears to be the shadow of a skull, and the words “HA HA HA” are inked ramshackle below the corner of his eye.

The brief trial was packed with stunning testimonies and damning evidence of Wilson’s actions against Ruiz and Melton.

“This is a man with no respect for women, with no respect for life,” said Sara Miller from the state attorney’s office.

A Girlfriend’s Testimony

It was only when Wilson’s girlfriend at the time of the murders, Melissa “Mila” Montanez, took the stand that we saw a shift in Wilson’s demeanor.

“When asked about Mila and killing her, he said there were too many people around. ‘I probably would have killed her, too,’” Miller said.

Montanez had to be in the presence of the man she once loved, who would think nothing less than to kill her.

“I knew I was going to die that day. I was just buying time,” she said.

It was during testimony of this attack, an attack on a woman he knew, that his demeanor changed.

When Amy Slobodzian, witness to the battery charge, said, “He was just dragging her and beating her,” Wilson simply shrugged.

Wade Wilson showed no reaction as family members of the dead cried on the stand, but when a woman he knew, a woman he maybe saw as a real person, was spoken of or sat on the stand, he tapped his fingers, he reached for water and showed textbook signs of nerves or discomfort.

“In his own words, to law enforcement, he was a [expletive] lion, and they were the prey,” Miller said.

The Jury’s Decision

On June 12, 2024, Wilson was found guilty on all six counts: battery, grand theft of a motor vehicle, first-degree petit theft, burglary of a dwelling, and the first-degree murder charges of Melton and Ruiz.

Following the brief two days of witness testimonies, the released body camera footage of Wilson before his arrest, and a surprise confession from Wilson’s father, the jury was given everything needed in their final assessment.

Wilson’s cold, unmoving expression conveyed his lack of remorse and concern for human life as he was then removed from the courtroom and pressed for fingerprints.

“This case was never about Mr. Wilson. It’s about what Wade Wilson did to Christine Melton and Diane Ruiz” said Andreas Gardner, State Attorney’s Office, “and make no mistake about it. Despite his bragging, his boasting, and the excitement he wants to feel, this case was nothing more than a graphic, vulgar display of power.”

The jury then proceeded to the penalty phase, deliberating on Wilson’s sentence.

During the first day of the penalty phase, Ruiz’s youngest son, Zane Romero, 19, took to the stand to speak on Wilson’s impact and destruction.

“I was in marching band, and the week prior, she told me how excited she was to go and watch me perform at that weekend football game,” said Romero. “It would have been her first time seeing me perform because that was my first year in that marching band. She never got to see me perform, and I never got the experience of seeing her in the crowd.”

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