A man who shot and killed two NYPD detectives in March 2003 has avoided a federal death sentence for the second time. Ronell Wilson was convicted of the execution style murders by two federal juries for the execution style murders of two NYPD detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin during an attempted illegal gun purchase. Wilson later bragged to his fellow gang members, “I popped them,” and dumped the bodies in the middle of a Staten Island street.
His first sentence of death was overturned because of a procedural error. Wilson was retried and sentenced to death a second time in 2013. Now federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, NY has decided that Wilson cannot be executed because he meets the legal definition of mental retardation. The judge issued a 76-page decision, in which he wrote:
“In reaching this decision, the court in no way minimizes or even excuses the cruelty and depravity of Wilson’s actions. Having presided over this tragic case for more than a decade, the court quite frankly finds it impossible to muster any sense of sympathy for this defendant. The court also recognizes with great sadness the pain that this decision is likely to cause for the families of James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews. Regardless of one’s views on the death penalty, these families have suffered enough.”
The decision to spare Wilson the death penalty came after a review of the case was ordered by the US Court of Appeals. The appeal came after the US Supreme Court case Hall v. Florida, which looked at a person’s IQ score to determine mental status. Based on this case, Judge Garaufis had to stop the death penalty decision because Wilson was considered retarded. However, Wilson’s IQ status did not stop him from having sex with a prison guard. Nancy Gonzalez worked at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and became pregnant by Wilson. After giving birth to her son in 2014, she was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for having sex with an inmate.
Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon issued the following statement: “We respectfully disagree with the decision made today by the court to reverse the death penalty sentence previously imposed on Ronell Wilson. Our thoughts are with the families of these two detectives and their entire NYPD family at this time.”
Wilson would have been the fourth person to be put to death by the federal government since 1963. The last federal execution was of Oklahoma City bombing terrorist Timothy McVeigh, who was given a lethal injection in 2011. McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people.