July 29, 2013


Killer of 2 Detectives Given Death Sentence

Solace for Victims’ Families

By Mark Toor

It is difficult enough to get 12 people to agree on anything, points out Detectives Endowment Association President Michael J. Palladino, but now two separate juries totaling 24 people have decided that death is the just punishment for Ronell Wilson, who killed two undercover Detectives in an execution-style shooting 10 years ago.

After a Federal appeals court tossed out the first death sentence, another jury decided July 24 that Mr. Wilson, 31, should be executed by lethal injection rather than sentenced to life in prison without parole. He will be transferred from a Manhattan detention center back to the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, that holds the Federal Government’s Death Row.

‘Death the Right Penalty’

“Hopefully this will finally come to a conclusion,” Mr. Palladino told THE CHIEF-LEADER. “I’m not sure whether that’s possible, because I’m sure there’s an appeals process again. But now 24 people have agreed that death is the right penalty. I just hope I see this happen during my tenure as DEA president.”

The appeals-court decision did not affect the first jury’s verdict that Mr. Wilson was guilty of shooting two Detectives, Rodney Andrews, 34, and James Nemorin, 36, in the back of the head during a 2003 firearms sting in which they were posing as firearms traffickers planning to buy a Tech-9 submachine gun.

The car had been parked in a secluded area of Staten Island. According to testimony, Mr. Wilson dragged the bodies out of the car, went through their pockets looking for cash, threw them on the ground and drove away.

“When Wilson was apprehended by local police several days later, lyrics to a rap song boasting about the murders were found in his pocket,” according to the office of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

First Here Since 1954

The death sentence levied by the jury that convicted him in 2007 was the first potential use of the Federal penalty in New York since 1954. But in 2010, an appeals panel overturned the sentence after deciding that prosecutors had overreached during closing arguments in contending that Mr. Wilson had not shown remorse.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who presided over the original trial, heard the second penalty trial as well. Defense attorneys argued that Mr. Wilson’s chaotic childhood—his mother was a crack addict and he was hospitalized for mental problems—should be considered as a mitigating factor. Further, they said, an entire lifetime behind bars would be punishment enough.

Prosecutors argued that Mr. Wilson’s crimes were inexcusable and that Correction Officers had difficulty managing him. Fellow prisoners testified that Mr. Wilson had threatened violence over such minor issues as what TV shows to watch. He also impregnated a female Correction Officer, Nancy Gonzalez. Their son was born in March. Ms. Gonzalez lost her job and pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate.

The jury decided that even in prison, Mr. Wilson continued to pose a serious threat to the safety of others.

Mr. Palladino said he was initially concerned that the second jury did not have the advantage of the first one in sitting through the criminal trial before judging the penalty phase.

‘He’s Not Remorseful’

But, he said of Mr. Wilson, “being a thug is part of his DNA and he actually enjoys it. I think the jury picked up on that...Wilson just leaves you with the feeling that he’s not remorseful, that he seems anxious to continue his crime wave even though he’s in jail.”

Detective Nemorin’s widow, Rose, attended much of the trial but missed the decision because the jury came back relatively quickly after four hours.

But Detective Andrews’ widow, MaryAnn, who is also a Detective, and his father Rodney Sr. were present. Ms. Andrews had testified that she and her two sons had undergone therapy for depression that began with the death of Detective Andrews.

“It was highly emotional for both of them, and it took time for them to emotionally and psychologically digest what they saw in the courtroom,” Mr. Palladino said. “MaryAnn broke down in tears.”

Law-enforcement officials praised the verdict.

PBA: He Personifies Evil

“Some evil must be wiped from the face of the Earth, and Ronell Wilson is the personification of that evil,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch. “There is no more difficult decision to ask a jury to make than this one, so we must commend them for doing their duty and following their conscience. This is a just decision.”

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, “When two New York City police officers were killed in cold blood, it was more than a calculated attack on two outstanding human beings. It was an assault on the society that those officers represented, and for that reason their murders had to be answered with the full force of punishment at society’s disposal. To do otherwise is to invite chaos.”

“Today, a jury of his peers looked at Ronell Wilson, everything he did and all that he is, and rendered justice,” said Ms. Lynch. “We hope that the verdict brings some measure of closure to the victims’ families, the men and women of the New York City Police Department, and to the communities Detectives Nemorin and Andrews served so well.”