The fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Nia Wilson at the MacArthur Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland in July 2018 by a California man with a history of violence and mental illness was deliberate, the prosecutor said as the suspect was convicted of first-degree murder.
Nia Wilson and her 26-year-old sister Lahtifa Wilson were transferring at the MacArthur station when John Cowell allegedly walked up and stabbed both of them, according to police.
Jurors deliberated for a couple of hours and found Cowell had premeditated the stabbing and murder of Nia Wilson by lying in wait, concealing his intent and then killing her by taking her by surprise.
“He took that little girl’s life,” deputy district attorney Butch Ford told the jury in closing arguments.
Cowell, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. He had previously been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
“I’m not disputing that he has some sort of mental health issue but I’m disputing that it played a role in the stabbing,” Ford said.
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Ford alleged that Cowell didn’t attack the Wilson sisters on the train because he wouldn’t have had a chance to flee quickly but instead waited to attack them when they changed trains at the MacArthur station.
Ford said, “He attacks them when they’re most vulnerable. He knew what he was doing.”
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