Thursday, February 1, 2007
From nytimes.com:They were police detectives, shot at close range, in the backs of their heads. Fellow officers and relatives filled the courtroom, day after day, during the trial of the man accused of pulling the trigger, who mostly kept his emotions to himself.
Add to that where the jurors came from — Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, but not Manhattan. And that the detectives knew, and were known in, the neighborhood, which gave the case a strong local connection — unlike, say, a case involving terrorist acts overseas.
Taken together, all those elements were so powerful, death-penalty specialists said yesterday, that the jury’s verdict seemed almost inevitable. The seven women and five men decided that the defendant, Ronell Wilson, should die.
That made him the first person to face death in a federal case in New York since the 1950s, a fate that other defendants have managed to avoid, even though some of them have been accused of killing far more people. “There was a confluence of factors,” said Deborah W. Denno, a professor at Fordham University School of Law. “I think it’s highly unlikely there will be another case with all these particular elements anytime soon.”
For that reason, she and other lawyers interviewed yesterday said they doubted that the Wilson verdict signaled a shift in public attitudes about the death penalty. Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland, noted that advances in DNA testing have uncovered faulty convictions and made juries nationally more hesitant to impose the death sentence. But he said there were no such doubts in the Wilson case. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]