A Brooklyn federal jury took only five hours Wednesday to decide on sentencing Ronell Wilson to death for murdering two undercover NYPD detectives on Staten Island in 2003, reinstating a previous death sentence that was thrown out in 2010.
Wilson, 31, was convicted in 2006 in federal court in the murders of two undercover New York City Police Department detectives.
Officers Rodney Andrews Jr. and James Nemorin were murdered, execution-style, on March 10, 2003 during a gun buy-and-bust operation.
A jury gave Wilson the death penalty in 2007, but an appeals court threw it out in 2010 because of a mistake by prosecutors.
Before the 12 jurors began deliberating Wednesday morning, Wilson's attorneys had argued that the death penalty was too cruel, saying that life behind bars is sufficient punishment.
Federal prosecutors, though, convinced the second jury that Wilson was worthy of death because he knew the two men were officers and his own life had little value now.
Wilson's family members who were in the courtroom today cried when they heard the sentence.
However, Andrews' father, Rodney Andrews Sr., told NY1 today that Wilson is a hardened criminal who should not live.
"He's dangerous. He's going to hurt somebody else. He's going to do something to somebody in jail, even one of the guards. He don't care," Andrews said.
Several law enforcement officials also praised the sentence.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement that the U.S. Attorney's Office did "persistent, outstanding work" on the case and that he hoped the sentence would bring "some solace" to the officers' families.
Kelly's statement reads, in part, "When two New York City police officers were killed in cold blood it was more than a calculated attack on two outstanding human beings. It was an assault on the society that those officers represented, and for that reason their murders had to be answered with the full force of punishment at society’s disposal. To do otherwise is to invite chaos."
"I think the jury recognized is not only the severity of the crimes that were committed, but I think they recognized that Ronell Wilson is not going to change," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association. "He's a thug. It's in his DNA."
"Some evil must be wiped from the face of the earth, and Ronell Wilson is the personification of that evil. There is no more difficult decision to ask a jury to make than this one, so we must commend them for doing their duty and following their conscience. This is a just decision," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.
While in prison, Wilson impregnated a prison guard, Nancy Gonzalez, who bore him a son earlier this year.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate and was fired from her job.
Before Wilson, the last death sentence imposed in a New York federal court case that lead to an execution in New York was 60 years ago.
Wilson's case was tried in federal court after the death penalty was abolished by New York State in 2004.
The defense plans to appeal Wilson's death sentence.