Sunday, April 01, 2007

Death Penalty trial to start this week

Vanessa Blum has a lengthy article about the Kenneth Wilk death penalty trial (SDFLA previous coverage here), which is to start this week in front of Judge Cohn. Apparently the defense is going to argue that Wilk was in the grips of AIDS-related dementia and believed he was acting in self-defense. They will not be able to argue that the victim, Todd Fatta, was using steroids. Here's the intro to the article:

In the beginning, it seemed like a routine operation. Roughly a dozen
Broward Sheriff's Office deputies arrived in the Fort Lauderdale neighborhood of
Coral Highlands on Aug. 19, 2004, to carry out an arrest warrant."Police!" they
yelled before breaking through the front door. "Warrant!"It was then, prosecutors will tell jurors, Kenneth Wilk crouched behind his kitchen counter with a Winchester 94 lever-action hunting rifle. When the officers entered, Wilk opened fire, killing Deputy Todd Fatta, 33, with a single shot to the chest.If convicted of first-degree murder, Wilk, 45, faces the death penalty. As his trial begins this week before U.S. District Judge James Cohn in Fort Lauderdale federal court, defense lawyers have no plans to dispute Wilk fired the shots that killed Fatta and wounded a second officer.Instead, the central question for jurors deciding Wilk's fate will be whether the gunfire was premeditated.Wilk's attorneys, Bill Matthewman and Rafael Rodriguez, have said they plan to argue it was not. They contend Wilk was in the grips of AIDS-related dementia and believed he was acting in self-defense.

I don't believe anyone from the SDFLA has ever been sentenced to death, but I'm not sure about this. Anyone know for sure?

VB was a busy bee the last couple days, with stories on the McCay brothers' sentencing (Michael McCay got 6 1/2 years and brother Robert got 15 months) and the sentencing of a doctor who worked at Mutual Benefits Corp (Clark Mitchell received 8 years).

And thanks to Rumpole for covering the story below. More at his blog.

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