Evidence presented in the trial showed that sometime in the pre-dawn hours of July 26, 2010, the Wilsons encountered Driskill as he attempted to burglarize their secluded home on Marigold Drive, just north of Bennett Spring State Park.
According to a press release, Driskill forced the couple back inside their house at gunpoint where he shot and suffocated 82-year-old Johnnie, and forcibly raped and shot to death 76-year-old Coleen Wilson.
Evidence suggested that Driskill attempted to burn their bodies in an unsuccessful effort to conceal the evidence of his crimes.
The Wilsons had returned to the isolated property, which they had recently sold, for the weekend to celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary in the home Johnnie had built for the couple when he retired from his job as a hardware store clerk in Springfield.
Their bodies were discovered the following evening by family members, who went to the property looking for the elderly couple after they didn’t return at noon Monday, as expected, to their granddaughter’s Highlandville home where they had begun staying after selling their Laclede County property.
“Johnnie and Coleen Wilson never got a chance to properly say goodbye to one another, and they didn’t deserve for their lives to end the way that they did,” says Attorney General Chris Koster. “ It is my hope that today’s recommendation from the jury that their murderer be put to death can begin the process of closure for the Wilson family as well as the Springfield and Lebanon communities, where Johnnie and Coleen touched so many lives in a positive way.”
On Wednesday, August 21, jurors returned guilty verdicts on two counts of first degree murder, one count each of burglary, forcible rape and sodomy, and five counts of armed criminal action.
Following the completion of the penalty phase of the trial on Friday, August 23, jurors deliberated for approximately four hours before recommending the death penalty on the two murder in the first degree convictions.
Formal sentencing on all of the verdicts by Laclede County Circuit Presiding Judge Kenneth Hayden is scheduled for November 5 at 2:00 p.m.
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