Prosecutors Will Not Seek Death Penalty For Man Accused Of Killing 18-Year-Old Nia Wilson
“Of course, in a perfect world I would want the death penalty,” Wilson's mother said.
Prosecutors in Alameda County, California, announced they would not seek the death penalty for Nia Wilson's alleged killer.
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Three doctors were asked to judge John Lee Cowell's state of mind and his ability to stand trial for Wilson's tragic death last July. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the 29-year-old's diagnosis was essentially inconclusive, prompting prosecutors to make their announcement on Monday.
In July 2018, Cowell stabbed the 18-year-old in an unprovoked knife attack at the MacArthur BART Station platform in the Bay Area. The knifeman also stabbed the victim's 26-year-old sister, Letifah Wilson, leaving a near-fatal wound in her neck. Many suspected the attack was racially motivated, but police did not consider the attack to be a hate crime.
Last August, KTVU reported that the prosecutorial addition of lying in wait, indicating the attack was premeditated, could result in consideration of the death penalty. A year later, the decision would come down to the evaluations of three doctors. One of the medical professionals determined Cowell wasn't mentally fit to stand trial and the other was unable to make a solid determination. A third doctor was brought in and deemed Cowell mentally fit to stand trial. Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Cramer agreed and moved on with his proceedings.
UPDATE: @AlamedaCountyDA not seeking death penalty against John Cowell, who was found mentally competent last month to stand trial in unprovoked stabbing at MacArthur @SFBART Station in Oakland that killed Nia Wilson pic.twitter.com/XWS9obV3Nv— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) August 19, 2019
The victims' mother, Alicia Grayson, knew of the prosecutors' decision before Monday's announcement. She told The Chronicle that the decision is still disappointing.“Of course, in a perfect world I would want the death penalty,” she said. “But I know it would have been kind of hard to seek that, with his mental state in question.”
Cowell has a lengthy arrest record which dates back to 2009. In 2016, he was arrested for battery and robbery in Contra Costa County and has a slew of warrants on his record.
ABC 7 News reports Cowell was scheduled to make a plea for murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing Wilson and her sister. However, due to his defense still deciding on how he should enter the plea, the entry will be postponed until October 11. Cowell could plead insanity and be sentenced to a mental hospital instead of prison if convicted.
His trial will begin on January 6.