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LEE COUNTY, Fla. – A jury recommended that he be sentenced to death for the murders of Kristine Melton and Diane Ruiz. If Wilson is sentenced to death, he will go to death row.

Fox 4 senior reporter Kaitlin Knapp has looked at the list of Florida’s death row inmates, and it’s a long list. It raises the question: Could Wilson spend the rest of his life in prison either way?

At the moment, Wilson’s fate is in the hands of Judge Nick Thompson, who will sentence Wilson on July 23.

If sentenced to death, he will join 278 other people on Florida’s death row. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Florida has the second-largest death row in the country.

Some have been on death row since 1976, so Knapp asked CEO Robin Maher why so long?

“There is a desperate need for appeals to prevent what happened from happening again: that we wrongfully sentenced people to death,” she said.

In the United States, 200 people have been vindicated, meaning they were wrongfully convicted. According to Maher, Florida has 30 – the most in the country.

“This means that something is really wrong,” Maher said. “We should make sure that every case is carefully examined.”

In their view, reforms could help solve the problem of convicting innocent people.

“We should make sure that people facing a death penalty get the best lawyers possible,” Maher said. “Even the very best lawyers need resources.”

Wilson is fighting his conviction. His lawyers are demanding a retrial or an acquittal. If Wilson is sentenced to death, it could be more expensive, according to Maher.

“Capital cases are inherently more expensive,” Maher said.

In their view, the reasons for this lie in resources, prosecution and defense, trials, security and maintaining death row.

According to a 2010 report by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Death Penalty Information Center, seeking a federal death penalty is eight times more expensive than seeking a life sentence.

Even though people are on death row, they are not assigned an execution date, even after an appeal.

In Florida, the governor signs a death warrant.

“Florida has paused for a long time and has not carried out any executions or death sentences,” Maher said.

The governor has not signed an arrest warrant for anyone from 2020 to 2022. The reason for this is unclear, but Maher believes COVID is partly to blame.

In 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed six death warrants. In 2024, he did not sign a single one.

While Maher says the Death Penalty Information Center does not have a firm position on the death penalty, she says people need to look at the issue carefully if they want change.

“It starts with caring about what is happening to people in our criminal justice system,” Maher said. “We have seen an all-time low in the number of new death sentences.”

Watch Fox 4’s coverage of the Wade Wilson trial