A New York City street gang member was given the death penalty on Wednesday in the execution-style slayings of two undercover police officers in 2003, the latest chapter in a case that’s seen his original death sentence overturned.
It took a jury just one day to deliberate in federal court in Brooklyn before deciding the fate of Ronell Wilson.
Another jury had found Wilson guilty in the shootings of undercover officers James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews.
The first jury also sentenced Wilson in 2007 to die by lethal injection, making him the first federal defendant to receive a death sentence in New York City since the 1950s.
But an appeals court threw out the sentence in 2010 and prosecutors chose to repeat the penalty phase rather than let Wilson serve an automatic life term.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis questioned the decision, saying that it put taxpayers on course to spend millions of dollars more on Wilson’s defense. He noted that he had just presided over a capital case where the defense bill was $5 million and the jury chose to impose a life sentence.
The new set of jurors, though not deciding Wilson’s guilt, once again heard about how the victims were posing as illegal gun buyers. The pair met with Wilson for what they thought was a deal to buy a submachine gun. But Wilson decided to rob them instead and ended up shooting them.
In asking to spare his life, Wilson “wants you to use your humanity,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Celia Cohen said in closing arguments. “He has shown through his actions that he has absolutely no humanity.”