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Suspect In Nia Wilson BART Stabbing Delays Entering Plea

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- The man accused of fatally stabbing a young woman at BART's MacArthur station did not enter a plea during a brief court appearance Friday.

28-year-old John Lee Cowell is charged with murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing 18-year-old Nia Wilson and her sister, 26-year-old Letifah Wilson, in July of last year. Cowell also faces a special circumstance allegation that he attacked Wilson while lying in wait, an allegation that could result in the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he's convicted.

Last month, Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Cramer found Cowell mentally fit to stand trial, based in part on a recent doctor's report.

Cowell is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin without bail.

Although Governor Newsom issued a temporary ban on capital punishment back in March, prosecutors have not ruled out the death penalty.

On August 22, 2018, the family filed a public entity claim against BART. The lawsuit was filed after BART failed to respond to the family's public entity claim.

In the lawsuit, "plaintiffs contend that — had BART taken adequate measures to prevent fare evaders from entering BART's stations, platforms or trains — Nia Wilson would not have died."

Cowell's next court appearance is scheduled for August 19th.

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