Death penalty or life in prison: what’s next for Wade Wilson?

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

Wade Wilson was convicted for the brutal strangling of Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz in Cape Coral five years ago.

Now, we are waiting to hear if a judge will take the recommendation from the jury and sentence Wilson to death.

Wilson’s attorney believes he anticipated that result, that he anticipated a recommendation of death because of the graphic nature of the offenses and the evidence introduced in the guilt phase.

While Wilson may not have been shocked, when that decision was read, we saw a physical reaction from Wilson we hadn’t seen before.

As Wilson sat in anticipation of his jury’s decision, life or death, the gulps started. Wilson physically got choked up, and couldn’t stop throughout the reading.

Wilson took it all in and looked over at his attorneys. One of them was Kevin Shirley, who we sat down with on Wednesday.

WINK News reporter Liz Biro asked Shirley, “Was this a gulp of shock? Was this a gulp of everything setting in?”

“I don’t know—Mr. Wilson’s kind of a complex individual. I don’t know [if] that had anything to do with shock. It might have been a final realization that this whole thing is almost resolved,” Shirley said.

Five years after Melton and Ruiz were murdered, a jury of Wilson’s peers recommended the judge sentence him to death. It took that jury less than 2 hours, including lunch.

“I thought it would take them longer. As much as we’re disappointed in their recommendation, at least they did their job, they came back and did not find that the state had proven all of their aggravators against both,” Shirley said.

And the jurors voted differently for the two different victims. Former Florida law said their vote had to be unanimous. Now, all you need is a majority of 8 to 4.

“Three of them thought there was sufficient mitigating circumstances to not recommend death on the first homicide in two on the second, so if the Florida law hadn’t changed, we would we may not be having this conversation today,” Shirley said.

The jury can recommend a death sentence, but his true fate is decided by honorable Judge Nick Thompson.

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