After two days of deliberations, a federal jury sentenced Ronell Wilson to death for the 2003 killings of undercover detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews. When the verdict was read, Wilson rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at Nemorin's widow Rose. This is the first death penalty sentence for a federal case in NY State in over 50 years.
While family and friends of the deceased cheered, Wilson's younger brother shouted after the verdict was read. The Sun said it sounded like a curse, but Daniel Wilson was taken out of the court room, only for Nemorin's mother-in-law to say, "You are a dead man!" Then Wilson's mother Cheryl said, "Y'all the murderers now." Daniel Wilson told the Daily News, "Just because one family lost a member, does that mean it's right that another family loses theirs? If their families are hurting so bad, how the f--k could they stand by and say 'Yes' when another man's life has to be taken."
His defense team tried to show that Wilson's upbringing was harrowing, growing up in a deeply troubled family, but by sentencing Wilson to death, the jury believed that Wilson acted with depraved indifference when he shot Nemorin and Andrews in the back of the head on March 10, 2003. Prosecutors said that Wilson knew that Nemorin and Andrews, posing as men who wanted to buy a gun, were detectives but wanted to kill them anyway. Wilson was found guilty of ten counts, including racketeering murder, carjacking, and criminal use of a firearm, last December.
Rose Nemorin told reporters, "Justice is served. I trust in the Lord and the Lord has served. Jim can rest now. Rest, Jim, rest. We love you."
Here is the text of Wilson's apology, given before the sentencing. The NY Times visited parts of Staten Island to find out what residents thought of the sentencing; many agreed with it, but one woman said, "Yes, he did kill two people, but sticking a needle in his arm won't help the wives of those officers sleep better at night." The Washington Post's Jabari Asim wrote an op-ed about Wilson and the rap lyrics police found in his pocket.