Jury recommends death penalty in Laclede Co. murder case

Jesse Driskill

Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that a jury has returned multiple guilty verdicts and recommended the death penalty for Jesse Dean Driskill for the July 2010 killing of Johnnie and Coleen Wilson in their secluded Lebanon, MO home.

The evidence showed that sometime in the pre-dawn hours of July 26, the Wilsons encountered Driskill as he attempted to burglarize their home. He forced the couple back inside their house at gunpoint where he shot and suffocated 82-year-old Johnnie Wilson, 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.

Koster examined witnesses, introduced evidence, and provided closing statements to jurors, including arguments that Driskill should receive the death penalty.

After the verdicts, Koster said, â??Johnnie and Coleen Wilson never got a chance to properly say goodbye to one another, and they didnâ??t deserve for their lives to end the way that they did. It is my hope that todayâ??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.â??

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.

In his closing remarks to jurors in the guilt phase of the trial, Koster said of Johnnie and Coleen Wilson: â??They were there for each other, through thick and thin, for 59 years, until they reached a moment where they couldnâ??t be there for each other.â??

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.