A judge has formally sentenced a Florida man to death for what prosecutors called the “brutal” murder of two boys. Mark Wilson, 32, was convicted of killing Robert Baker, 12, and Tayten Baker, 14, in what Judge Howard McGillin called an “egregious crime” during Wilson’s sentencing Friday, according to First Coast News.
Prosecutors said Wilson, who had been dating the boy’s aunt, was staying on her family’s property in Putnam County, Florida, in August 2020 when he beat the two children to death with a hammer and slit their throats.
“Mark Wilson, the sick monster responsible for Tayten and Robert’s brutal murder was arrested last night,” Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach said at the time.
The judge reportedly pointed out Tayten was awake when it happened. A blood trail indicated that the teenager attempted to reach a cell phone.
Jurors recommended the death sentence in October — the judge agreed with that decision.
“The defendant committed two truly horrific murders of innocent children,” McGillin said. “Tayten’s death, in particular, was especially cruel and undoubtedly painful. The court finds insufficient evidence to override or disagree with the jury’s recommendations. Finding that the prerequisites of law have been met and that a jury of his peers has unanimously found death to be the appropriate sentence.”
The boys’ mother found them dead the next morning. Sarah Baker testified to seeing Wilson sharpening a knife the night before the killings. That was the knife used in the slayings, authorities said.
“When I ripped off the blanket, I knew,” she said, according to WJXT in October. “It was everywhere. [Tayten] was covered in blood. I ran over to Robert, and I’m screaming at him to call 911, and I rip his blanket off and all I can remember is his head flipped forward and then it banged back up against the wall. He was the same thing, soaked in blood, and I didn’t get a good look at what his injuries looked like, but I did as far as Tayten’s. In that moment, I started screaming at the top of my lungs.”
“These are some of the most brutal murders I’ve heard about, the defendant attacked these kids without mercy.”- State Attorney on deaths of Robert and Tayten Baker. @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/UIPJcMZOCK
— Bridgette Matter (@Bmatternews) August 28, 2020
“It’ll never bring the boys back,” the boys’ cousin Kelli Cocco said Friday, according to First Coast News. “I don’t think in a case like this there is real justice, but this is the best outcome that could have happened for our family, so now we can try to find a way to move on and find our new normal.”
The defense raised mitigation, saying Wilson faced abuse since childhood, his stepparents introduced him to drugs, he abused drugs (including cocaine) since childhood, he has brain damage, he faced neglect and abuse from adult caretakers as a child, both sides of his family experienced mental illness, he has “intelligence deficits,” he committed the crimes being “under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance,” and that his capacity to appreciate the illegality of his actions or to conform his conduct to the law “was substantially impaired.”
“Mark Wilson Jr. can be redeemed,” wrote public defender Rosemarie Peoples.
The argument was not enough to save him from Florida’s death row.
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