If charged in federal court, Chili’s murder suspect could face the death penalty

Local News
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office is considering federal charges against the man accused of killing two employees of the Chili’s in DeWitt, our sister station in Syracuse has learned.

Federal charges have not yet been filed, and may never be, but the public defender who would take the case tells LocalSYR’s Andrew Donovan the possibility of the death penalty for William Wood Jr. is the only reason federal prosecutors would get involved.

The death penalty is not allowed in New York State and can not be set as a sentence by county or state judges, which is why federal prosecutors would be involved.

The last time the death penalty was considered for an Onondaga County case was in 2013, when David Renz was convicted of raping a 10-year-old girl and murdering Lori Bresnahan in the parking lot of Great Northern Mall.

Ultimately, Renz was not given the death penalty.

Wood Jr. is already facing life in prison without parole if convicted of the state-level murder charges. 

Police say he gunned down Kristopher Hicks and Stephen Gudknecht during a late-night robbery in September.

Four others are also facing charges in the case, after police found a network of alleged accomplices, including Wood Jr.’s getaway driver, the woman who police say provided the gun, the man who sold her the gun first, and her son, who was also in the getaway car.

Wood, and the others, are currently being held at the Onondaga County Justice Center. 

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