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Palm Coast Thursday, Jun. 20, 2019 1 year ago

Jury finds Michael Wilson not guilty of attempted murder of his wife through electrocution

The jury instead found him guilty of attempted battery.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A Flagler County jury has found Michael Scott Wilson, 33, not guilty of attempting to murder his wife by using an electrical device wired to her front door to electrocute her when she entered the home. It did find him guilty of a charge of attempted battery, a misdemeanor. The attempted battery charge was a lesser included offense for a charge the prosecution was seeking: aggravated battery on a pregnant person. The jury also found him guilty of grand theft of a firearm, a third degree felony carrying a potential prison sentence of up to five years.

The jury of five women and one man deliberated for two hours and 42 minutes before coming to its verdict.

In the prosecution's telling, Wilson had wired his wife's front door to an electrical socket in an attempt to kill her in late December 2017 because he was angry with her: He'd accused her of cheating with another man, had told others that he suspected that the child she was carrying wasn't his, and had threatened to file charges against her for removing money from his bank account without his permission.

He'd worked for her father, but was fired and left town before contacting her again before that Christmas and agreeing to share it with her and other family members out of state. Before he did so — unbeknownst to her — he went to her home on White Hall Drive in Palm Coast and rigged the electrical device to her door such that it would electrocute anyone who placed a key in the socket while also placing a hand on the doorknob. He instructed her to use the front door when she arrived home, and to make sure that she didn't have their young daughter with her when she did, the wife told the court.

In the defense's narrative, Wilson had returned to the home in Palm Coast and found that someone had placed a firearm in a cabinet above the stove and installed surveillance cameras around the house. He was alarmed by that, and had taken the gun and rigged the door to shock a potential intruder — not his wife. Wilson said on the witness stand that he'd told his wife to use the garage door when she arrived home, not the front door.

The wife, suspicious because of Wilson's statements, asked her parents to check on the house and the door. They arrived and found that the area around the knob was charred. They called the Sheriff's Office, and a deputy kicked the door in — causing a loud electrical pop — and found the device. The  prosecution played for the jury the deputy's body camera footage of the moment he broke in the door and found the device.

In an interview with a detective when he was captured in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Dec. 28, 2017, Wilson lied over and over again. Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark played a video of that interview in court on June 21, the final day of Wilson's trial. It was the last piece of video evidence jurors saw.

First, Wilson told the detective questioning him, Michael Washam, that he hadn't been to Florida since the previous summer. 

Then, later in the same interview after Washam had warned Wilson that his movements could be tracked through his cell phone records, Wilson admitted he'd been to Florida before Christmas, but insisted he didn't go to his wife's home and was in the state less than an hour, just to get some tattooing equipment he'd left at a local tattoo shop. 

Then, he admitted he'd driven past the house. Then that he'd entered the garage, thought he still adamantly denied going into the house. 

Then, again under pressure, he admitted he'd entered the house. (He'd later admit to having been there for about three hours.)

The detective confronted him with photos of the electrical device that had been affixed to the door.

"Did you do this?" Washam asked.


"Even to scare her?"


Then, told that he'd been charged with attempted first-degree murder, Wilson tried to say the device visible in the photos wouldn't really do any harm. 

"That’s — that’s a hoax, there’s nothing," Wilson said. "You could sleep on that door with a wet towel around you, that wouldn’t do anything. That's a trickle charger sir, that’s not a jump. ... This is definitely a real whoopsie-daisy on their (law enforcement's) part. ... I had nothing to do with that: 100%, nothing to do with it."

He did have something to do with it, though, and admitted so to law enforcement later. 

Clark, the prosecutor, reviewed all those inconsistencies before the jury in her closing arguments June 21.

"Now, suddenly, he says not only was he in Florida, he actually went into the house because he had to get all of his stuff, and 'OK, yes, I put a device on the door, but it wasn’t for my wife.'"

Regina Nunnally, the public defender representing Wilson, said that after Wilson had gone to the home and found the gun and the cameras, he'd asked his wife about them, and she'd answered evasively‚ adding to his concern. 

“And at that point, Mr. Wilson panicked; he just sees this stuff sitting there — what is this stuff for?” Nunnally said. “So he does put a trickle wire, and he does put up a barricade.”

The door was also barricaded from the inside with dining room chairs — in order, according to the prosecution, to force anyone trying to enter to hold the key and the knob to try to force it open, and, in doing so, close the electrical circuit. 

Deputies later spoke with the wife, who said Wilson had had a medical episode several  months before and fallen to the ground, and was later Baker Acted and received a diagnosis — paranoid schizophrenia —  before moving out of the home.

But the jury was not allowed to hear that: Wilson did not enter an insanity defense, and the prosecution told the judge that his crystal meth use — he'd had some on him when he was caught in Tennessee — would have been responsible for psychotic symptoms.

Clark used text and phone records that made clear Wilson's ire at his wife over money and his concerns about her unborn child's lineage in order to establish potential motive for the attempted murder charge. She noted that he'd arranged his wife's ultrasound photos neatly on a counter inside the home.

"He was just furious with her (his wife); he was done," Clark said. "Had (the victim) closed the circuit on that door, she wouldn’t be here today. And he did that because he didn’t want (the victim). He didn’t want the baby she was carrying because he didn’t believe it was his. But he wanted (his daughter)."

To establish premeditation, she pointed to the amount of time he'd had to consider his actions: A nine-or-so-hour drive to Palm Coast from Tennessee, and the same stretch back. Then there was the fact that computer records showed that he'd Googled how to make a trickle charger into a booby trap. And the fact that he'd changed his Facebook status to "widowed" by the time he was arrested. When challenged by Clark in court, said he'd done so because he thought it "sounds better to say widowed than having a failed marriage.” When asked why he hadn't written "single," he replied, “Because single wouldn’t be true.”

Nunnally pointed out that Wilson's Facebook page was full of falsehoods: he'd also written, untruthfully, that he'd attended high school in Compton, California and had studied computer science at DeVry University.

"Everything in here is untrue, including the 'widowed,'" Nunnally said. "Everything on that was inaccurate. It wasn’t true."

Wilson will be sentenced before Judge Terence Perkins on Aug. 2. 

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