Defense rests in trial of man convicted in killings of Putnam County boys

Mark Wilson Jr. appears in court. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The defense rested Thursday in the trial of Mark Wilson Jr., a man convicted in the killings of two young Putnam County brothers in 2020.

Defense attorneys put a diagnostic radiologist on the stand, who described the brain scarring he found in Mark Wilson. The state’s first witness was a psychologist who examined Wilson in jail after he was convicted of the murders. She diagnosed him with substance abuse disorders and an anti-social personality disorder. She said, in her opinion, Wilson was not suffering from a major depressive disorder.

On Wednesday, Dr. Stephen Nelson, a psychologist, took the stand. He too described for the jury abnormalities found in Wilson’s brain scans. Nelson said those kinds of abnormalities can result from a mother using drugs and alcohol while pregnant, or from childhood abuse.

A day prior, defense witnesses included Wilson’s stepsister from Arizona, who described a childhood filled with heavy drug use and domestic abuse by her mother and Wilson’s father. The first psychologist to testify was Dr. Harry Krop, a veteran of dozens of criminal cases. He administered a battery of psychological and memory tests to Wilson.

Krop told the jury Wilson’s results showed moderate to severe impairment, and in several tests he scored in the lowest percentile. Krop said an intelligence test gave Wilson an IQ of 75.

The penalty phase for Wilson began Monday with opening statements at 9 a.m. in Putnam County Court, where the jury that convicted Wilson will decide whether or not to recommend the death penalty.

“This becomes infinitely more complicated when you factor in the possibility of Death Row,” said attorney Gene Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case. ″They know that the decision that they make is going to take a life or not.”

Wilson was found guilty earlier this month on two counts of first-degree murder for killing 12-year-old Robert Baker and 14-year-old Tayten Baker. He was dating their aunt when the boys were stabbed and bludgeoned in their home in Melrose.

For Wilson to face the death penalty, all 12 jurors would have to make a unanimous decision.