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GUILTY: Wade Wilson convicted of killing two Cape Coral women in 2019

Wilson is facing the death penalty
Wade Wilson
Posted at 1:11 PM, Jun 12, 2024

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Guilty on all counts.

On Wednesday, a jury convicted Wade Wilson of two counts first-degree premeditated murder — the murder of Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz on October 7, 2019. Now, he could be sentenced to death.

As the verdict was read, Wilson sat with no emotion on his face. Behind him were families of the victims, holding each other as the word "guilty" was read six times. Six times for six counts.

GUILTY: No reaction from convicted killer while loved ones cry as Wade Wilson verdict is read

In the courtroom was Cape Coral Police Chief Anthony Sizemore.

"There is no situation where he's going to be walking the streets. An animal like this needs to be put away," Sizemore said. "Just relieved that the jury did the right thing."

During closing arguments, the State focused on Wilson's plan to kill the women.

"This case was about killing for the sake of the killing," said Assistant State Attorney Andreas Gardiner. "Strangulation is the epitome of life slipping through someone’s hands."

He went on to say Wilson had no remorse when he killed the Cape Coral women.

"Despite his bragging and his boasting, he got excitement he wants to feel," Gardiner said. "This case was nothing more than a graphic, vulgar display of power."

Gardiner says Wilson clearly planned to murder again, telling detectives in a jailhouse interview that he had already done it once and "I would do it again."

One of Wilson's attorney, Lee Hollander, didn't argue whether or not Wilson committed the crimes. Rather, he argued whether it was planned or not. A second-degree murder charge means it is not planned versus first-degree.

"None of this was not depraved," Hollander said. "I’m not arguing insanity, I’m just arguing that state’s claimed premeditation. And I'm saying he’s whacked out, he’s just out of his mind for any of this."

However, the State has the final say before deliberations. They came back with powerful words to the defense's argument.

"This is a man with no respect for women and no respect for human life," said Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller.

Miller then repeated what Wilson told police after his arrest.

"I choked her out until she couldn't breathe anymore," Miller said. "I came across my mind to murder, just kill, kill, kill."

Over the past several days, a timeline of Wilson's crimes were laid out.

Wilson met Melton at the Buddha bar and eventually went home with her. The next day, Wilson strangled Melton to death and left her body in her Cape Coral home.

That same day, Ruiz was reported missing. She was walking to her job at the Moose Lodge - about a half mile from her home. Wilson told his dad and other witnesses that he stopped, asked her for directions and she got in the car.

Wilson's dad said his son admitted to choking her while driving and pushing her out of the car. When he realized she was still breathing, his dad said Wilson admitted that "he got back into the car and ran her over until she looked like spaghetti."

On Oct. 10, Ruiz was found dead in a field behind Sam's Club on Pine Island Road.

Prior to her body being found, Wilson had taken Melton's car and brutally beat his girlfriend near downtown Fort Myers. He got away from authorities later and was eventually found hiding out in a random Cape Coral home.

On Wednesday, Wilson was also found guilty of grand theft, burglary of a dwelling, battery, and petit theft. State attorneys said he stole Melton's car, later broke into a Cape Coral home and stole items in it.

The next step is the penalty phase. The State is seeking the death penalty and will have doctors examine Wilson before testifying. Wilson could also be sentenced to life in prison without parole, which is what the defense will fight for with their own experts.

In April 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill, which only requires eight out of 12 jurors to vote in favor of a death penalty recommendation. Prior to the law, it had to be unanimous.

However, Wilson's fate will be decided by Judge Nick Thompson, though he legally has to weigh the jury's recommendation heavily.

The penalty phase will start on Thursday, June 20.