By Jon Brown
Published:October 30, 2022
A Florida man convicted earlier this month of brutally murdering two boys is slated to receive the death penalty after a jury unanimously recommended the punishment Friday following a five-day sentencing trial.
Mark Wilson was found guilty of first-degree murder earlier this month for killing 14-year-old Tayten and 12-year-old Robert Baker in August 2020, according to local ABC affiliate First Coast News.
Wilson, who was living with his wife, the boys’ aunt, in a shed on the family’s Melrose property at the time, beat the boys in the head with a hammer before slitting their throats.
Their mother, Sarah Baker, was sleeping in the house during the murders, but a homicide detective testified that she would have been unable to hear them in the living room from her bedroom because of insulation.
The Putnam County sheriff claimed the murder scene at the property was one of the worst he had ever seen.
In a news conference shortly after the killings, State Attorney R.J. Larizza said, “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. He attacked these two kids without mercy.”
— Ryan Nelson (@RyanNelsonTV) August 27, 2020
According to courtroom testimony from Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton, it appeared as though Wilson had either tried to slit older brother Tayten’s throat multiple times or saw through his neck.
Robert, the younger brother, reportedly had his throat slashed “end to end,” nearly decapitating him.
Sarah Baker testified during the trial that before the murders she had seen Wilson outside sharpening a knife that would later be matched to the murder weapon. She found the body of her oldest son at the end of an 18-foot trail of blood. Both of the boys were covered in blankets, at first hiding the extent of their injuries.
Wilson’s mother, Chrissy Adkins, played a pivotal role in the investigation as a confidential informant who agreed to record the conversation with her son that would ultimately lead to his arrest.
“I told Mark that he needed to cooperate,” she said on the stand. “Take a lie detector test and clear his name. He got out of the bed, and he said, ‘Mom, I can’t do that,’ and I asked if he hurt those babies … and in a voice that wasn’t his own, he said, ‘Yes, Mom, I did it.'”
Adkins claimed her son often spoke strangely, especially when he was using drugs. Both Wilson and his wife were drug users, according to witnesses and police records.
In the recorded conversation that was played in the courtroom, Wilson explained that he killed the boys because he believed the family was going to report him and his wife to the Department of Children and Families. He also claimed that he and his wife had plotted to annihilate the entire family, according a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office arrest warrant.
In a different story, Wilson had claimed the boys had sexually abused his daughter.