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Wade Wilson's attorneys ask for new trial or acquittal in double murder

Wilson is expected to be sentenced to death or life in prison on July 23
Wade Wilson
Posted at 1:16 PM, Jul 08, 2024

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Wade Wilson, the man convicted of killing Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz, is asking for a new trial or an acquittal of Melton's murder.

In court documents his attorney filed on July 3, it says the new death penalty law violated Wilson's constitutional rights against ex post facto laws. This means a law that "imposes criminal liability or increases criminal punishment retroactively," according to the Constitution.

On April 20, 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law to allow a death penalty recommendation if a jury votes 8-to-4.

In Wilson's case, nine of the 12 jurors in the case recommended Wilson be put to death for the murder of Kristine Melton.

10 of them urged the death penalty for the murder of Diane Ruiz.

Fox 4 Senior Reporter Ryan Kruger has looked at how the death penalty law has changed in Florida and what this could mean for Wilson.

Maria DeLiberato, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, believes Wilson’s case could put Florida’s law to the test.

“This is going to be litigated for decades,” DeLiberato said. “When (Wilson) was arrested, unanimity was the law. And then they changed the rules in the middle of his prosecution, basically.”

If Wilson is sentenced to death, he will join two other southwest Florida men on death row who also were sentenced after non-unanimous recommendations.

His attorney also says the court denied Wilson's pre-trial motion to sever the murders and burglary charges. The document says the State prosecutors failed to prove that Wilson had Melton's car without her consent prior to her death.

Because of these reasons, Wilson's attorneys are asking for a new trial or an acquittal on the murder, burglary and grand theft charges.

Judge Nick Thompson is expected to sentence Wilson on July 23, but it's not clear when this motion will be heard.