Double cop-killer Ronell Wilson tried to apologize to his victims' survivors as he was sentenced to death in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday, but they said it was too little and way too late.
"I'm deeply sorry for the pain that has been caused upon you and your families," Wilson said, turning to address relatives of the dead cops before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis pronounced sentence. "Error is human, but to forgive is divine."
The wife of James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor, one of the NYPD detectives Wilson killed during an undercover gun buy in 2003, was not in court, but the father of his other victim, Rodney Andrews of Middle Village, had a curt response.
"He committed the ultimate crime," said Rodney Andrews Sr., who did not speak at the sentencing. "He needs to pay . . . You do things and you say you're sorry, but it's too late. My son is already dead. It's too late."
Wilson, 31, was convicted in 2006 of shooting Nemorin and Andrews in the head and dumping their bodies on a Staten Island street. His original death sentence was overturned, but in July a new jury ended a five-week retrial with a death verdict.
Tuesday's sentence made Wilson the first person in 50 years to get the federal death penalty in New York, but no execution date was set. His lawyer said he will appeal, and nationally, amid legal battles over lethal injection, the last federal execution was in 2003.
Wearing a white T-shirt, black pants and sneakers, Wilson complained to Garaufis, after his apology, that he was forced to go to trial too soon and that his lawyers failed to call important witnesses. He stood stone-faced when the judge finally pronounced sentence.
Garaufis said the murders were distinctive because of their "viciousness" and the lack of remorse shown by Wilson, who wrote rap lyrics lionizing himself while he was on the run. The judge called it "one of the most grisly and horrific crimes this city has ever seen."
Before imposing sentence, Garaufis called for an investigation of the federal Bureau of Prisons by the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general based on evidence that Wilson had fathered a child with a guard and intimidated other inmates at the federal lockup in Brooklyn.
"This defendant, whose convictions for killing two New York City Police detectives had been affirmed on appeal, was permitted to treat the MDC [Metropolitan Detention Center] as his own private fiefdom," Garaufis said.
Spectators included Andrews' wife, Marianne, who declined to comment afterward. Dozens of police colleagues of Nemorin and Andrews filled three rows in the cavernous ceremonial courtroom at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn.
Wilson's family, including his mother, Cheryl, sat behind him in court. "Love you, Ronell," she said as he was escorted out by marshals. "Your baby will be all right." She would not comment as she left court.
Wilson's lawyer, David Stern, called the sentence "pointless," adding: "This is a really sad day for me because of my failure to explain to a jury the futility of this sentence . . . It solves nothing. It demonstrates how little we have evolved since biblical times."