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DAY 1: 2019 Cape Coral double murder trial begins

Wade Wilson is accused of killing Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz
Posted at 3:18 PM, Jun 03, 2024

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Close to five years after the deaths of Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz, the man accused of killing them has started his trial.

On Monday, Wade Wilson sat in front of potential jurors of the trial.

Cape Coral Police say in 2019, Wilson strangled Melton and Ruiz to death.

Judge Nick Thompson read Wilson's charges on Monday as potential jurors sat in front of him. Those charges include:

  • 2 counts of first-degree murder
  • Grand theft of a motor vehicle
  • Battery
  • Burglary of a dwelling
  • Petit theft

Wilson showed no emotion on his face as the charges were read, though Wilson did fold his arms and lean back at times as his attorneys and the prosecution questioned potential jurors.
"Do you have any personal or moral or religious opposition to the death penalty?" Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller asked a potential juror.

Both sides asked questions like that one because if Wilson's found guilty, he could be sentenced to death.

"Even if you find the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating circumstances, do you understand that the law will never compel you to come back with a recommendation of death?" said Kevin Shirley, one of Wilson's attorneys.

Under a new Florida law, only eight out of 12 jurors have to agree on a death penalty recommendation rather than it be unanimous.

However, in order to be found guilty of the charges, all jurors must be unanimous.

Miller also asked some potential jurors about the tattoos on Wilson's face including a line on his mouth mimicking stitches, a swastika on his face and many others.

The judge ruled Wilson can wear makeup in an effort to cover them up, but he did not appear to have any one the first day of the trial.

Jury selection is expected to take about a week and the trial is expected to take another two or three days.