(c. born in 1978) is incarcerated on Death Row at San Quentin
State Prison for the murder of 9-year-old Matthew Cecchi in
Oceanside, California on November 14, 1998.
Wilson was twenty years old when
he followed the boy into the men's washroom at the Oceanside
Harbor. Cecchi, who was at a family event, was escorted by his
aunt to the washroom. She stayed outside near the door waiting for
him. Wilson, a drifter from Milltown, Wisconsin, quickly took out
a knife and pulled Matthew's head back and slashed his throat from
ear-to-ear without making a sound.
Wilson left, walking past
Matthew's aunt and hissing, "What's going on?" at her. This
alarmed her, causing her to call out to her nephew. Hearing no
answer, she entered the washroom and screamed when she found the
little boy lying dead in a pool of blood.
Oceanside police immediately cordoned off the
area in an attempt to find the killer, but Wilson was not caught
until a few days later when he attacked a woman in Los Angeles.
Brandon pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity
and his trial began on September 13, 1999. Wilson told
investigators he killed Matthew because God told him to do it
and then to go on a killing spree. Wilson's public defender,
Curt Owen, portrayed him as an insane young adult who heard
voices. He had no permanent place of residence and he had been
abusing LSD since he was 14.
Curt Owens told jurors that Wilson had
experienced urges to kill since he was a teenager. At age 13
Brandon was profoundly affected by his parents divorce. The
divorce apparently made Wilson develop a hatred against his
mother. He had fantasies of killing her. Wilson believed he was
a warrior for God. Wilson was also disturbed by the sudden death
of one of his closest friends in a car accident.
According to his attorney, Brandon graduated high
school and received a $25,000 settlement for injuries he
sustained in a car accident. Brandon used the money to travel
the country and find God.
But the jury rejected all those arguments upon
viewing a police videotape of Wilson describing the attack on
Matthew Cecchi. Brandon appeared happy and proud of his actions.
He smiled and laughed several times as he demonstrated to a
police officer how he attacked the boy. Brandon even admitted he
knew his actions were wrong.
On September 28, 1999, the jury quickly returned
a guilty verdict. Brandon's reaction to the verdict was a happy
one. During the penalty phase, Brandon took the unusual step to
testify. He urged the jury to give him the death penalty. He
told the jury society would be a better place without him. He
admitted having no remorse for Matthew Cecchi, and told them he
was capable of killing another child and enjoying it.
The jury agreed and gave him the death penalty.
Just a few weeks shy of the one year anniversary Brandon Wilson
was sent to deathrow at San Quentin State Prison.
Judge makes it official:
Brandon Wilson must die
November 4, 1999
SAN DIEGO, California (Court TV) — Unrepentant child
killer Brandon Wilson was officially sentenced to death Thursday
for the murder of a 9-year-old boy in a California public
Calling Wilson "beyond the pale of salvation,"
Judge John Einhorn brushed off a plea for mercy by Wilson's
public defender and imposed the death sentence recommended Oct.
6 by a jury.
"Mr. Wilson, you have made real every
parent's nightmare. By your twisted and selfish actions, you
have take from us our most precious asset, that is our children,"
Wilson, a drifter and psychedelic drug user,
slit Matthew Cecchi's throat Nov. 14 as the boy used the
bathroom at the Oceanside, Calif. beach where his relatives were
holding a family reunion. Wilson told authorities that he killed
at the direction of God and chose Matthew because he was "innocent."
Family and friends filled the courtroom to
offer support for the Cecchi family, which according to Sharon
Cecchi, Matthew's mother, has "fallen apart" since the boy's
death. Matthew's father, Lou Cecchi Jr. is battling cancer, and
he and Sharon have decided to divorce.
In a letter read by family friend, Michael
Lamph, Lou Cecchi Jr. told the court that Wilson, whom he
described as a "punk" and a "freak", had destroyed "our happy
family of four." Because of Wilson's heinous act, Matthew's
father said he had become "a robot." "Divorce, cancer, and
murder all in one year, I feel like an actor in a horror movie,"
His estranged wife delivered her own heart-breaking
impact statement. She read letters from Matthew's classmates and
spoke about the devastating "pain and loneliness" of her
remaining child, Nicholas, 4.
Of Wilson, she said, "May he not relish in
"Let him see the face of a dying person every
day and every night, and let that face be his own. This is what
he wants, this is what the jury demanded. Let it be done."
Deputy Public Defender Curt Owen could do
little to stop the death sentence. The judge rejected both of
the motions he had filed asking for Wilson's sentence to be
reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In
the first, a mandatory motion, he argued that mitigating
circumstances, including Wilson's psychiatric history, youth and
drug use, precluded the death penalty. In an eloquent second
motion, Owen quoted Shakespeare and Clarence Darrow in an
outright argument for mercy.
He wrote, "No, Brandon Wilson does not
deserve mercy. Mercy is never deserved. Mercy is an act of grace,
an act of grace which can only be bestowed when it is not
deserved. Were it deserved, it would be merely justice."
While Wilson chose not to speak at his final
sentencing Thursday, he took the stand last month to say he had
no remorse and demanded that jurors execute him.
"I would do it again in a second if I had the
chance," Wilson said. "I've explained to you my position here.
My whole purpose in life is to help destroy your society. You
people are here as representatives of that society. As such, you
should do everything in your power to rid the world of me.
After the judge imposed the sentence, the 65-year-old
veteran defender called the case "a living hell" and said he
planned to retire because of the cumulative effect of cases like
Wilson's. He called his client "my worst opponent" and said, "He
outdid me. He got what he wanted."
During the sentencing, Wilson wore his
characteristic half-smile and sometimes looked bored. Only twice,
did he lift his eyes from the defense table and follow the court
action. He looked up first when Cecchi family friend Lamph,
addressing him directly, seemed to mock his "emissary of God"
"This was not an act of God. God had no role
in this. It was Satan. And he made a fool of you," said Lamph.
"I hope and pray you rot in hell for eternity." He also appeared
interested when Einhorn mentioned San Quentin, where
California's death row is housed.
Jury recommends death for Wisconsin
drifter in child's slaying
October 6, 1999
VISTA, Calif. (Court TV) —
Unable to put aside his admitted lack of remorse and sadistically
gleeful reenactment of the slaying of 9-year-old Matthew Cecchi,
California jurors Wednesday granted Brandon Wilson's wish and
recommended his execution.
During deliberations on Tuesday and Wednesday,
jurors asked for a readback of Wilson's testimony in the sanity
and death penalty phase of his trial. They also asked to review
Wilson's taped police confession and the Cecchi family's 911 call
after finding the little boy gravely wounded in the Oceanside,
Calif. public park bathroom.
Wilson's attorney, Curt Owen, tried to convince
the jury to show mercy, despite his client's statement during his
death penalty hearing. On Monday, after Cecchi's mother tearfully
told the court how her son's loss had affected her and her family,
Wilson took the stand against Owen's wishes and told jurors that
he felt no remorse for the killing and would do it again "in a
second." Wilson then explained that his purpose on earth was to
help destroy society and that the jury should do everything in its
power to get rid of him — through execution.
That statement, along with a disturbing
videotaped confession where a smiling, nearly ecstatic Wilson
shows police how he killed Cecchi, was too much for Owen to
overcome. He argued that Wilson is mentally disturbed and should
be sentenced to life in prison without parole, where he could
But the prosecution, led by David Rubin, said
that Wilson's actions and words showed that he is a "selfish
predator" who fully knew what he was doing when he slit Cecchi's
throat last November. During the sanity and penalty phase of the
trial, Rubin focused on Wilson's admission that on the day of the
murder he was looking — "hunting" — for a victim, preferably a
pure, young one. Wilson also confessed that he chose to kill his
victim in a dark bathroom so no one would be able to stop him.
Wilson, Rubin pointed out, said he chose to go to Oceanside
because he thought the place was large enough for him to "slip
through the cracks" and get away with murder.
Stressing the brutality of the slaying, Rubin
also reminded jurors that medical examiners testified that Cecchi
was conscious for 10 long seconds before passing out. As Wilson
held Cecchi's head back, Rubin pointed out, the last image Cecchi
could have seen was his own blood hitting the bathroom wall with
Perhaps the only people who may have been able
to effectively generate sympathy for Wilson would have been his
parents. But, largely thanks to Wilson, they did not testify on
his behalf. Wilson, who told jurors that he hated his mother and
fantasized about killing her when he was 16, reportedly requested
that she not testify at his penalty hearing. In addition, defense
attorney Owen told the court in a hearing last Thursday that he
has not been in contact with Wilson's father recently. The elder
Wilson has not been seen at his son's trial since the video
reenactment of the murder was played.
Wilson's involvement in Cecchi's murder was
never at issue; he admitted killing the boy during his arraignment
last year. Although Wilson pleaded guilty to the murder with a
special circumstance of lying in wait, California law also allowed
him to add a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Wilson's defense attorney argued during the
sanity phase of trial that his client thought he was an emissary
of God placed on earth to kill and could not appreciate the
wrongfulness of his actions when he attacked Cecchi. Last week,
jurors rejected that defense after reviewing the videotaped
confession where Wilson admitted knowing society's views on murder
and decided he would face a death penalty hearing.
Wilson will be formally sentenced by the trial
judge on November 4. He is entitled to an automatic appeal to the
California Supreme Court, whether he is pleased with his death
sentence or not.
Matthew Cecchi's mother, Sharon, delivered a heart-breaking impact
statement. She read letters from Matthew's classmates and spoke
about the devastating "pain and loneliness" of her remaining child,
Nicholas, 4. Of killer Brandon Wilson, she said, "May he not
relish in our pain." (Court TV)
Brandon Wilson wanted to testify
before the jury to aggrandize his evil image, according to his
attorney Curt Owen, who repeatedly counseled his client not to
take the stand. Wilson did agreed not to speak before the judge
Thursday. (Court TV)
Brandon Wilson smiles as the jury grants his wish: a
recommendation for the death penalty. (Court TV)