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Man Guilty of Killing Baby Son

July 29, 1999

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) _ A Frostburg, Md., man accused of killing two of his children for $190,000 in life insurance money was found guilty Thursday in the 1987 smothering death of his 5-month-old son.

A jury of eight men and four women found Garrett Eldred Wilson guilty of first-degree murder. Wilson, 43, could face life in prison with no chance of parole when he is sentenced Sept. 3.

``When the verdict came, he was heaving. It was almost like someone hit you in the stomach and took your breath away,″ said defense attorney Barry Helfand, who told reporters an appeal is likely.

Wilson received $150,000 in life insurance benefits after the baby’s death.

The death of Garrett Michael Wilson was ruled a case of sudden infant death syndrome until the child’s mother went to police in 1994.

``I hope this has helped the nation realize what’s happening to children,″ said Mary ``Missy″ Anastasi, the dead child’s mother, who was Wilson’s third wife.

Anastasi, 45, first expressed her suspicions that her former husband killed their son on the morning the boy was pronounced dead. In 1994, she persuaded Montgomery County police to investigate the case.

``It’s been a hard case and a lot of years,″ a smiling Anastasi told reporters.

During the 9-day trial, jurors reviewed evidence from the death of Garrett Michael and the death six years earlier of Wilson’s baby daughter from a previous marriage. They heard from nearly 30 witnesses, including five forensic pathologists.

``They understood that SIDS is not genetic, and they rendered a proper verdict in two hours,″ said Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas Gansler. The deaths of both babies were originally considered cases of SIDS.

Gansler anticipates that more child deaths initially labeled as SIDS will be reinvestigated to determine whether they were homicides.

Wilson faces trial Sept. 14 in Prince George’s County, Md., in connection with the 1981 death of Brandi Jean Wilson, his daughter from his second marriage. If Wilson is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of his son, Prince George’s prosecutors could decide not to try the second case.

The death of the two-month-old girl was reclassified in 1998 as probable suffocation by undetermined means. Wilson received $40,000 from life insurance policies he purchased from two different companies within six weeks of her birth.

``Justice does prevail, even though it’s taken so many years. I have to say I’m very happy,″ said a smiling Jean Oliver, the maternal grandmother of Brandi Jean. Her daughter, Deborah Wilson Fennell, was 15 years old and five months pregnant when she married the 23 year-old Wilson. Both women testified against Wilson.

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