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Wendell man gets life sentence for murdering wife

A Wake County jury on Saturday sentenced a man to life in prison for stabbing his wife to death. Before he was sentenced, Jakiem Wilson faced his wife's family and told them "why it happened."

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Wake County jury on Saturday sentenced a Wendell man convicted of fatally stabbing his wife to life in prison.

The jury, which deliberated for three days before finding Jakiem Wilson guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday, took less than an hour to decide his punishment in the Feb. 12, 2007, stabbing death of Nneka Wilson. He had been eligible for the death penalty.

Before his sentencing, Wilson stood in court, faced his wife's family and confessed why he killed her.

"Honestly, the only reason why it happened was because she found out I was cheating on her, and I got scared about everything that happened afterward," he said. (Watch Wilson speak to the family and watch the judge read his sentence.)

Wilson then told his family that he loved them and for them to take care.

They showed open relief when the sentence was handed down while Nneka Wilson’s mother cried, and male relatives attempted to comfort her.

No penalty was harsh enough for Wilson, her family said.

"He brutally and viciously tortured Nneka. Even after he murdered her, he continued to cause her harm," said Wanda Gilbert-Coker, Nneka Wilson's cousin. "We, as a family, will try to find peace in this." (Hear more from the family.)

Earlier in the day, during closing arguments, prosecutors said Wilson forfeited his right to live when he stabbed his wife in their Wendell home. Nneka Wilson had knife wounds to her heart, lung and neck.

"He laid, he waited, and when he saw the opportunity, he plunged the knife into her chest," Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt said.

Wilson admitted responsibility in his wife's death last month but argued that he acted in a sudden fit of rage and did not plan the killing.

Defense attorneys asked the jury to spare Wilson's life for the sake of his children. During closing arguments, they showed pictures of Wilson with Matthias and Naja, who are now ages 4 and 2, respectively.

That argument fell flat with Nneka Wilson's family, Gilbert-Coker said.

"The jury thought this monster should be spared for his children, but a father does not kill their mother," she said.

The children were home at the time of the murder but were unharmed. Jakiem Wilson has signed away his parental rights, and Nneka Wilson's mother and stepfather have since adopted them.

Roderick Ryan Howell, of Knightdale, and Jamie Russell Holder, of Garner, who belonged to a four-man gang with Jakiem Wilson, testified that he told them he planned to kill his wife.

They said that Wilson told them he sat and waited with a knife behind his back as his wife showered and that he told jokes as he used her hairbrush to clean up blood.

Both men are being held on accessory charges for allegedly helping Wilson cover up the crime. They testified last week that Wilson said his wife nagged him and would want child support if the two split up and that he threatened them if they did not help him clean up after the crime.

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