Death For A Remorseless Killer

A remorseless Wisconsin drifter who challenged jurors to choose execution as his penalty for murdering a 9-year-old boy in a beach restroom has gotten his wish.

After five hours of deliberation Wednesday, a San Diego County Superior Court jury recommended that Brandon Wilson, 21, receive the death penalty for killing Matthew Cecchi last year at Oceanside, north of San Diego.

Wilson smiled slightly as the verdict was read. His court-appointed attorney congratulated him.

Â"He's quite pleased with the verdict,Â" attorney Curt Owen said. Â"It's what he wanted.Â"

Testifying at his penalty hearing against his lawyer's advice, Wilson told jurors in a calm, deliberate voice that he felt no remorse for the killing and would Â"do it again in a second if I had the chance.Â"

Â"Execute me,Â" he said.

Wilson, who left his hometown of St. Croix Falls, Wis., two years ago to travel the West, admitted that he crept up behind Matthew while the boy stood at a urinal, slashed his throat and stabbed him five times in the back.

Â"It's amazing how anyone can have no remorse for something of that magnitude,Â" said Matthew's uncle Mark Gerhard, who made the 911 call to police moments after Wilson attacked the boy.

Cecchi had traveled to Southern California with his mother and younger brother from their home in Oroville, north of Sacramento, to attend a family reunion. His aunt had escorted him to the restroom and was waiting outside for him when he was killed.

Jury foreman Gene Wagner said Wilson's death wish had no effect on his decision to vote in favor of capital punishment. He was moved more by Wilson's gleeful re-enactment of the crime in a videotaped police interview, which jurors viewed Wednesday before announcing their verdict.

Â"If there was ever a case that deserved the death penalty, this one's it,Â" said Wagner, a lab scientist from San Diego.

Wilson's mother, brother and other relatives sat grim-faced during the verdict and left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. They did not testify at the sanity trial or during the penalty phase at Wilson's request, Owen said.

Calling Wilson Â"deeply psychotic,Â" Owen said his client deliberately sabotaged his efforts to get him life imprisonment without possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.

Â"He views that in some way of making him a martyr,Â" said Owen, adding that Wilson reveled in the national media attention of the trial. He said it was Wilson's Â"day in the sun.Â"

Superior Court Judge John Einhorn will make the final decision at a sentencing hearing Nov. 4. He can choose the lesser penalty, but judges usually follow the recommendations of juries, court officials said.

If the judge upholds the sentence, Wilson would become the youngest of the 551 prisoners on California's death row, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

ut an appeal is automatic for death penalty cases in California and it could be years before Wilson is executed, Owen said.

The day after the killing, Wilson shaved his head and went to Hollywood, where he was arrested after stabbing a woman on the street. She survived and Wilson then confessed to police that he killed Matthew.

He claimed he was insane at the time, driven by hallucinogenic drugs and voices from God to kill. The same jury rejected that argument last week, voting that Wilson was sane enough to know right from wrong.

Matthew's father, Lou Cecchi, said in a phone interview from Oroville, that he was sure since the arrest that Wilson would receive the death penalty. Neither he nor the boy's mother, Sharon Cecchi, were in the courtroom Wednesday for the jury's verdict.

Â"We're just very frustrated with the legal process, that it's actually going to take so long to do this guy,Â" he said.

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