PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — WARNING: Some details of this case are disturbing
A judge decided Friday that a Putnam County man convicted of killing two boys in 2020 will receive the death penalty.
Judge Howard McGillin told Mark Wilson, “May God have mercy on your soul,” before he was taken out of the courtroom Friday.
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Putnam County Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach issued the following statement via the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page:
“This will not bring back Robert and Tayten Baker, but it does close the door of uncertainty the family has lived through these last two and a half years. Our hearts are broken for the family. There will never be enough to right the terrible wrong this monster did to these children and this family, but if anyone deserved the death penalty it is Mark Wilson. We want to thank the Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, State Attorney RJ Larizza and the jurors for seeing this through to completion. I especially want to thank our detectives, deputies and victim advocates who put their heart and soul into this case to bring justice for these two boys. We know there will be appeals, but today is a win for those who fight for justice and I personally cannot wait to have this waste of existence vacate my jail and be delivered to death row at the Florida state prison in Raiford.”
Robert, 12, and Tayten, 14, were brutally beaten and stabbed while they slept in their Melrose home on Aug. 26, 2020. Wilson, who was dating the boys’ Aunt Cindy at the time, was arrested and charged with their murder.
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According to a warrant, Wilson told deputies he felt threatened and had planned to kill the entire family with Cindy. However, he said she didn’t hold up her end of the deal. Cindy does not face any charges.
Larizza issued the following statement on the judge’s decision:
“This was a vicious and brutal murder of two young brothers. The defendant showed no mercy and received none today in the courtroom. He got what he deserved.”
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Wilson, a Melrose man, was convicted of the murders of his girlfriend’s nephews on Oct. 14. The three-day trial resulted in a guilty verdict on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed burglary.
It took the jury less than an hour to deliberate and return a death sentence recommendation for Wilson on October 28. McGillin made the death sentence official on Friday.
McGillin noted that Wilson had the choice to plead guilty and spare the family of the boys of a trial but he chose not to. That was a big factor in McGillin’s decision to hand down the death penalty.
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Tayten and Robert had a larger than life presence, cousin Kelli Cocco said.
“He was a chef. He was a phenomenal chef. I made him a chef hat and apron, you know, Master Chef Tayten and then Robert, you know, was smart as a whip and he was going places. He was already getting scholarships at 12 years old,” Cocco said.
Robert was asleep and Tayten was awake when the brutal killings happened. Evidence shows Tayten tried to escape the murder.
RELATED: WARRANT: Putnam boys’ killer admits plot to kill entire family
“The hand print on the wall indicates that he was alive and again strongly suggests he was reaching for his cell phone which was plugged in,” McGillin said.
The details of their death were gruesome. Both boys were beaten in the skull and their throats were severed. Tayten had 20 different incisions.
It’s been difficult for the family to have to re-live these details over and over again in court, which is what McGillin considered when sentencing Wilson.
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“That was the best thing that could happen,” Cocco said. “No family should ever have to experience something this horrific. It’s just something that’s gonna haunt you for the rest of your life.”
The defense claimed Wilson was on drugs at the time of the murder, adding he was experiencing an extreme mental and emotional disturbance, but McGillin said there was no evidence that either had an impact on Wilson’s actions.
Tayten and Robert’s family just wants to begin the process of moving forward.
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“It’s a hard loss. All of our kids have to face it. We all have to face it. You know, we all have to face it in a sense where there’s always going to be two chairs missing,” Cocco said.
Cocco said at every family celebration, they light an orange and blue candle for the boys. They plan to now remember them for who they were and not what happened to them.
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