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Judge: Ronell Wilson eligible for death penalty in cop-killings

A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled Thursday that convicted cop killer Ronell Wilson is not mentally retarded and is eligible for the death penalty.

Wilson, 30, was convicted in 2006 of the murder of two NYPD officers during an undercover gun buy on Staten Island in 2003, but his death sentence was overturned on appeal. A new penalty trial is planned this year, but his lawyers moved to block it under a Supreme Court decision banning execution of the retarded.

"Wilson is not mentally disabled and was not mentally disabled at the time of the crime," U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote in a 55-page opinion. "This does not mean that he will receive -- or deserves to receive -- the death penalty, but only that any such penalty would not violate . . . the Eighth Amendment."

The ruling, clearing the way for jury selection on April 3 and a penalty trial on May 20, was praised by the brother of James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor, the detective shot to death along with partner Rodney Andrews of Middle Village, Queens, by Wilson on March 10, 2003.

"You made my day today," Petion Nemorin, the detective's older brother, said Thursday in a telephone interview from his home in Atlanta, when he was told of the ruling. "It's cold and raining here, but when you told me that, it really lifts my spirit."

He said Nemorin's family is united in the view that Wilson should be executed. "I believe he deserves to die," said Nemorin. "He has to pay for his crime. That should bring the death penalty."

Garaufis' ruling followed lengthy hearings on Wilson's intellectual functioning last year. The judge said the bulk of the nine IQ tests he was administered over his lifetime were above the standard measure of retardation -- a score of 70 -- and most of the test administrators had decided he was not retarded.

"None of the clinicians concluded that he suffered from mental retardation," the judge wrote. "And most of them believed that his observed scores represented an underestimate of his true intelligence."

Authorities have charged Nancy Gonzalez, a prison guard from Huntington, with having sex with Gonzalez in the federal jail in Brooklyn, and said she was pregnant with his child. If he becomes a father, that could come up during his penalty trial, lawyers say.

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