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Convicted rapist stands trial for murdering wife

Posted on November 09, 2009 3:00 AM EST

A former Miami social worker is accused of murdering his wife and is charged with the sexual assault and attempted murder of his stepchildren. After a six week jury selection, opening statements were presented to the jury by the prosecutor and the defendant's Miami criminal lawyer. The prosecutor told jurors that Grady Nelson admitted to law enforcement officers that he sexual assaulted and stabbed his stepdaughter and stepson and then turned the knife on his wife. The medical examiner found that he stabbed his wife 60 times and slashed her jugular artery. Nelson was formally charged in 2005 with first-degree murder, attempted murder and sexual battery.

Prior to the murder of his wife, Nelson had been arrested for the sexual assault of his wife's 11 year-old daughter. Soon after the arrest, Nelson attended his bond hearing where he was granted bail and bond hearing judge issued a stay away order from the victim. Despite the court order issued by the judge, the defendant returned home and allegedly committed the horrific crimes. The police found him inside the residence covered in blood and holding the murder weapon.

The Miami criminal attorney representing Nelson explained to the jury that his client was innocent of all charges and that the actual person guilty of the crimes was the boyfriend of the children's grandmother. The attorney explained to the jury that the alleged confession was forced out of his client by law enforcement officers. The prosecutor will undoubtedly present the taped admission to the jury. The jury will be given every opportunity to listen to the alleged confession and decide for themselves whether or not it was coerced by the homicide detectives.

One of the reasons jury selection took six weeks in fairly straightforward case is due to the fact that the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty against Nelson. In all capital cases, the defendant is entitled to a twelve member jury. In all other cases, a defendant is entitled to a six member jury. The increased number of jurors and additional death penalty questions that coincide with this type of case can explain the length of time to select a fair and impartial jury.

If Nelson is convicted of the first degree murder and sexual battery, he is facing the death penalty. If convicted of the crimes, he will appear at a death sentencing hearing, where the judge will make the ultimate decision. Nelson will present through the assistance of his lawyer any mitigating factors which will cause the judge a reason to hand down a life sentence as opposed to the alterative. Of course the prosecutor will offer aggravating factors in an effort to convince the judge that the death penalty is warranted.

Trial Begins For Convicted Rapist Accused of Killing Wife, The Miami Herald, November 5, 2009.
Categories: Violent Crimes