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'Said he killed people': Witnesses testify in first day of double murder trial

Wade Wilson is accused of killing Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jun 10, 2024

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On Monday, opening statements began in the double murder trial against Wade Wilson. Wilson is accused of killing Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz in October 2019.

It started with a brutal description from state attorneys telling the jury how they say Melton and Ruiz were found dead.

Andreas Gardiner, assistant state attorney, said Melton's face was black and blue, her "fingernails were broken." He also said she had marks on her neck.

The State attorney later described Ruiz.

"He had driven over her repeatedly and tried to make her look like spaghetti," Gardiner said.

"Both of them died on the October 7 of 2019. Both of them had been strangled and both of them were forever silenced. The last person they encountered was Mr. Wade Wilson."

Melton was found dead in her home and Ruiz was found dead in a field, police said.

The defense, surprisingly, chose not to speak, which led to the first witness.

"Wade came in a black car, backed up to one of the buildings on the property," said Joshua Lukitsch, an acquaintance of Wilson's.

Lukitsch says Wilson showed up to his job at Matteo Graphics.

"He was trying to get a plane ticket or a bus ticket or whatever he would from me to get out of town," he said. "He was bloody and was missing a couple of teeth."

That's when Lukitsch claimed Wilson confessed to the murders.

"He said he killed people and he rolled up someone in a carpet or bedding or whatever it was," Lukitsch said.

State attorneys say Melton was wrapped in sheets after she was murdered.

The defense questioned part of Lukitsch's story.

"During the 911 call, there was no mention of him being covered in blood," said Lee Hollander, one of Wilson's two attorneys. "Did you leave that out?"

Lukitsch said he did not remember.

After officers from the police department testified, Melton's best friend took the stand.

Stephanie Johnson said she and Melton went to the Buddha Bar on McGregor Boulevard the night they met Wilson in October 2019.

"At that point, he [Wilson] introduced himself as JR," Johnson said.

Wilson also met another man there, Jayson Shepard, State attorneys said.

Johnson said they all went back to Shepard's house where, she says, Melton and Wilson were intimate.

A few hours later, she says Melton, Wilson and Johnson went to Melton's apartment in Cape Coral.

Johnson says they were nervous because Wilson could not drive the vehicle they arrived in - which was manual. At that point, they called an Uber.

"I know Kristine and I had a sense of relief that we made it home...that we made it home safely," Johnson explained.

She says she stayed for about 15 minutes before leaving Melton and Wilson at the apartment.

"Kristine would have never let me leave that house if she were scared. She would have said 'let's get this guy out of here together,'" Johnson said.

So Johnson left and said she couldn't get ahold of Melton the next day.

She later learned Melton had died. In court, Johnson held back tears as she looked at photos of Melton.

Wilson's attorneys brought up drug use, questioning Johnson and Shepard about cocaine use. Johnson said Wilson, Melton and Shepard used drugs that night, but nothing escalated when she was there.

As the trial progressed, Melisa Montanez, Wilson's then-girlfriend, testified. Wilson is facing a battery charge involving Montanez.

Following the alleged murders, Wilson is accused of driving to her business and beating her. She said he called her to meet, and she wanted to get her car back from Buddha that night. She said he took it that night without her after the bar.

However, State attorneys said he showed up in Melton's car instead.

In court, Montanez said she tried to reason with Wilson during the fight.

"There is no one behind those eyes anymore," she said. "I knew I was going to die that day."

Montanez got away and survived.

Wilson's trial will continue on Tuesday, and State attorneys are expected to bring more witnesses in until potentially the end of the week.