JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jury selection is underway in the death penalty trial of a Putnam County man accused of stabbing and bludgeoning two boys to death, but opening statements are not expected until early next week.
Mark Wilson is accused of killing his girlfriend’s nephews, 14-year-old Tayten Baker and 12-year-old Robert Baker, in their Melrose home in August 2020. Prosecutors say the couple originally planned to kill the entire family, including the boy's 4-year-old brother and mother, but the aunt backed out. Investigators believe Wilson killed the boys with knife and a hammer, which were found wrapped in a towel under a sink, covered in bloodstains.
According to police, the Baker family had allowed Wilson and his girlfriend to live in a shed on their property after the couple moved to Putnam from Polk County.
As recently as August, Wilson offered to plead guilty to first degree murder in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors refused, insisting on going forward with the death penalty trial.
In announcing the death charges, State Attorney R.J. Larizza said, "It was not a difficult decision to make.”
“I can tell you, I’ve been working in the criminal justice system since 1980 and these are some of the most brutal murders that I’ve ever heard of,” Larizza said at the time. “He attacked these two kids without mercy.”
After Wilson's arrest, Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach said, "this is truly one of the most horrific crime scenes that I’ve ever seen in my life."
The state attorney’s office tells First Coast News they expect jury selection in the high profile murder case to last the entire week. A judge requested 225 prospective jurors be summoned on Oct. 4, 6 and 7, with additional jurors summoned Oct. 10 if needed.