A California judge took the extraordinary step of halting jury deliberations because of the even deadlier coronavirus outbreak, declaring a killer sane after the defendant was convicted of killing f 18-year-old Nia Wilson aboard an Oakland, Calif. Train.
On Monday, Alameda County Judge Allen Haymer halted the third day of jury deliberations after a jury had already found 27-year-old John Lee Cowell guilty of first-degree murder for killing Nia Wilson and guilty of attempted murder in the “prison-style” stabbing attack on Wilson’s sister, Letifah Wilson, on July 22, 2018. The ruling opened the possibility of Cowell being sentenced to life in prison, KRON reports, although the vicious murderer had hoped for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity after he admitted killing Wilson because he thought they were “aliens” and “gang members” who kidnapped his grandmother. The jury was deliberating whether he would be sentenced to prison or a mental health facility.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Judge Allan Hymer’s verdict was announced in a closed Alameda County courtroom a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom directed people 65 and older to isolate themselves at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Several of the 12 jurors — as well as Hymer — are over 65.
While Wilson’s family and prosecutor Butch Ford cheered the judge’s swift action, the circumstances of the ruling almost certainly set the case up for an appeal by defense attorneys. Ford said prior to Hymer’s verdict that jurors were leaning 11 to 1 toward a sanity finding.
“I know Nia’s smiling down on her family, her sisters, her friends,” said Alicia Grayson, Wilson’s mother “I know she can rest in peace now.”
While prosecutors painted Cowell as an evil, demented man out for blood, public defender Christina Moore tried to portray him as a delusional, troubled schizophrenic who heard voices.
“John Cowell acted because of his delusional misinterpretation of the world,” Moore told the jury. “John was actively psychotic with hallucinations and disillusions.”
Anyway, he’s going to jail. One less crazy racist off the streets. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but…
Thank you, coronavirus.