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Jury recommends death penalty for convicted Cape Coral killer Wade Wilson

Judge Nick Thompson will decide Wilson's fate on July 23.
Wade Wilson
Posted at 3:23 PM, Jun 25, 2024

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The jury has recommended the death penalty for Wade Wilson, the man convicted of killing Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz in 2019.

In Melton's case, nine out of 12 jurors voted in favor of the death penalty. For Ruiz's case, 10 out of 12 jurors said Wilson should get death.

Jurors took less than two hours to make the decision. Because of a law passed in 2023, only eight jurors need to agree on a death penalty recommendation for that to be the entire jury's decision.

Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller calls the recommendation a relief.

"You know, you’re asking someone to take another life and so it’s always a difficult thing, but I think in this case it was a justified act given the horrific nature of this case," Miller said.

She adds this is not only justice for the women, but it's a win for other victims.

"We have heard from many women who have been victimized by the defendant, but maybe you didn’t go forward on charges or for whatever reason didn’t find justice in the justice system," Miller explained. "I think this win really ensures the safety of a lot of people."

However, this isn't Wilson's sentence. Judge Nick Thompson will decide whether Wilson will go to prison for life or be put to death on July 23.

They will have what is called a Spencer hearing, which is the judge will hear more about Wilson's background and other legal matters.

Prior to this recommendation, the jury head from the families of Melton and Ruiz. They also heard from doctors, before the final pleas from both sides.

Miller focused on the killings themselves.

"Both murders were especially heinous, atrocious and cruel," she said. "He inflicted pain and he showed utter indifference to her [Melton's] life."

Miller showed evidence during closing arguments — a curtain rod with blood on it — comparing the weight of carrying a curtain to the weight of the jury's decision.

The attorney then honed in on the diagnoses by doctors.

"It’s not credible that mental illness caused the defendant to murder Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz. He was under the influence of power, of lust, of control, of hate. 

She also mentioned his drug addiction.

"Many people suffer from drug addictions, but they don’t go out and commit murders," she said.

Defense attorney Kevin Shirley asked jurors to focus on Wilson's state of mind.

"He’s sick, he’s got a diseased mind," Shirley said. "There’s something wrong with his brain. It doesn’t work like everybody else’s does."

Shirley also read a letter from Wilson's adoptive sister.

"Wade, like his birth mother, came a victim of his diseased mind," he said. "But is now taken over by the monster and disease of addiction."