"Judge Finds Wilson Not Mentally Retarded; Clears Way for Death Penalty Trial," is the New York Law Journal report by Mark Hamblett.
Ronnell Wilson is not mentally retarded and can once again appear before a jury that will decide whether he should be executed for the murder of two undercover police officers on Staten Island in 2003, a federal judge ruled this morning.
Eastern District Judge Nicholas Garaufis rejected claims by lawyers for Wilson that he was mildly retarded and should be spared capital punishment pursuant to Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002).
Wilson was convicted in 2006 by a jury in Brooklyn federal court of the 2003 murder of NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews. The jury went on to vote that he be put to death and Garaufis imposed the penalty in 2007.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the capital punishment verdict on constitutional grounds and remanded to Garaufis for a retrial on the penalty phase.
On remand, Wilson requested a pretrial hearing on whether he was mentally retarded and thus ineligible for a death sentence under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the Federal Death Penalty Act.
Garaufis held a nine-day hearing in December 2012 under Atkins, where the Supreme Court held that the execution of mentally retarded individuals was cruel and unusual punishment. At the hearing, believed to be the first of its kind in federal court in New York, dueling experts gave contrary opinions on Wilson's intellectual skills and abilities (NYLJ, Dec. 6, 2012).
This morning, Garaufis said, "Wilson has not satisfied the burden of proving that he more likely than not suffers from significantly subaverage intellectual functioning."
Yesterday, the case garnered media attention for another reason. The New York Times reported, "Impregnated by Prisoner, Guard Now Faces Charges," by Mosi Secret.
He was one of the most notorious criminals in New York’s recent history, whose execution-style murder of two undercover police officers led a jury to issue the first federal death sentence in the city in more than a half century.
She was a lonely correction officer, assigned to guard the cell block at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where he was being held.
Inside the federal jail, Ronell Wilson, the convicted killer, and Nancy Gonzalez, his nighttime guard, would talk for hours, according to other inmates. They would disappear together for minutes at a time, behind closed doors. Several times, they were seen kissing, confirming suspicions of an illicit romance.
Ms. Gonzalez later admitted that the two had sex repeatedly, with the goal of having a child together. She was aware, she said, of the many possible complications, from the prospect of facing jail herself to the difficulty of telling her child the truth about his father. She explained her motivations to another inmate: “Why not give him a child, as far as giving him some kind of hope?”
On Tuesday, Ms. Gonzalez, 29, displaying the full contours of a pregnancy now in its eighth month, was arraigned in federal court on charges of sexual abuse of a person in custody, because an inmate cannot legally consent to sex. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. She stood before the judge in a black overcoat and sweat pants, softly answering procedural questions while dabbing her eyes with a tissue.
The press surged around Ms. Gonzalez the instant she stepped out of the courthouse, and she put her head on the shoulder of her lawyer, Anthony L. Ricco. “She’s had a very tragic life and as this case proceeds, you’ll learn more about it and how these affected her judgment,” Mr. Ricco said. He added, “People find love in the strangest places.”
"Authorities: Guard Had Sex With Inmate Facing Death Penalty," by Sean Gardiner and Carrie Melago for the Wall Street Journal.
A female corrections officer was charged Tuesday with having sex with an inmate facing the death penalty for the 2003 murders of two New York Police Department officers, authorities said.
According to a federal complaint, Nancy Gonzalez is eight months pregnant following a relationship with Ronell Wilson, who was sentenced to death in the homicides of undercover detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin. She faces charges of unlawful sexual abuse and is awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday.
Gonzalez was captured on video repeatedly meeting with Wilson in a vacant room inside the Metropolitan Detention Center, and she disclosed her pregnancy to jail officials in June 2012.