Man convicted of murdering 2 Putnam County boys could face death penalty

Man convicted of murdering 2 Putnam County boys could face death penalty

The sentencing trial for a man convicted of murdering two young Putnam County brothers in 2020 begins in two weeks, and he could face the death penalty.

Mark Wilson Jr. was found guilty Thursday on two counts of first-degree murder for killing 12-year-old Robert Baker and 14-year-old Tayten Baker. His convictions mean he could be sentenced to death.

After a grueling three days in court, the Baker family was relieved when the jury found Wilson guilty on all counts.

“I’m really happy about it. I was kind of iffy if they were going to get the first degree and then when I found out they got it, I was very excited and happy,” the boys’ mother, Sarah Baker said.

The family members of the boys said they want Wilson to be executed. For Wilson to face the death penalty, 12 jurors would have to make a unanimous decision.

Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Kuritz tried numerous death penalty cases when he was an assistant state attorney.

He told News4JAX that in Florida, to seek the death penalty, you have to have an aggravator. Aggravators included premeditated felonies especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel and those done for monetary gain.

Florida began requiring a jury’s unanimous consensus for the death penalty in 2017. Most recently, when Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz was given life in prison Thursday, the jury’s foreman told a reporter three jurors voted against the death penalty, with one of them saying she voted against the death penalty because she thought Cruz was mentally ill.

Kuritz said Wilson’s defense could bring up his mental health in the sentencing phase.

“There are a lot of things you’re going to hear now about him as a person that you never would have heard in the penalty and the guilty phase,” Kuritz said.

In a recorded interview, Wilson told investigators he was high on meth the morning of the murders, had been up for three days and didn’t remember them.

The defense has two mental health professionals on its witness list who could be called during the sentencing trial. They include a pediatric neurologist from New Orleans and a forensic psychologist from Gainesville, who has evaluated high-profile defendants such as Casey Anthony and Aileen Wuornos.

While the family of the Baker brothers said nothing will ever ease their pain; they think justice for them means death for Wilson.