Death penalty sought again for Ronell Wilson in New York City cop killings

June 25, 2013 5:04:33 AM PDT
For the second time since two undercover police officers were gunned down in 2003, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have asked a jury to sentence their convicted killer to death.

Jurors began hearing evidence on Monday in the death penalty phase of the case against Ronell Wilson.

Another jury convicted Wilson in 2006 in the slayings and sentenced him to die by lethal injection. But an appeals court found that prosecutors made improper arguments in the penalty phase of the trial and threw out the sentence.

Rather than let Wilson serve an automatic life term, prosecutors decided to once again seek the death penalty with another jury. The proceeding is expected to take up to five weeks and cost taxpayers well over $1 million in fees for Wilson's defense.

Wilson, now 31, was a young gang member on Staten Island when he was arrested in the point-blank shootings of undercover officers James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews in an illegal gun sting gone awry. The officers were both shot in the back of the head.

Defense attorneys had sought to head off a second death penalty proceeding by arguing that Wilson's rights were being violated because he's mentally disabled. But a judge found otherwise, citing testing over the years that nearly always found that the defendant had an IQ higher than 70 - considered a benchmark for mental disability.

It's unclear whether the jury will hear about more recent accusations that Wilson fathered a baby with a prison guard.