First murder suspect set free due to changes in California's felony murder law

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE: Neko Wilson has officially been released after spending 9 years in jail for his involvement in the murder of a Kerman couple.
In the courtroom prosecuting attorney William Lacy cited the new state law in telling the judge Neko Wilson should be set free.

"In light of the recent passage of sb 1437 the people have reached a plea agreement with Neko Wilson."

Under the agreement, murder charges against Wilson were dropped. He instead pleaded guilty to burglary charges. The maximum sentence for those crimes would be 9 years in custody. Neko Wilson has served 9 years and 4 months. The judge ordered him canceled. Outside the courtroom, Lacy explained.

"Neko Wilson planned these armed robberies and two people were murdered and the state of the law in California now is that if you plan armed robberies and people are murdered you are no longer responsible for the murders unless you are the actual killer. "

Neko Wilson was not in the house during the killing. He had waited outside claiming to have had second thoughts and left the scene without knowing what happened. But under the old law, he was charged with murder.

Wilsons brother Jacque Wilson, hailed the change in the law, which as a public defender in San Francisco, he helped get through the legislature.

"Fortunately for my family and many other families like mine, SB1437 provides hope. The people that we are talking about, like my brother Neko, he's not a killer."

Neko Wilson was one of 6 involved in the plan to rob the home of Gary and Sandy DeBartolo. The Kerman couple was targeted because they had been growing marijuana in their home. Four of the suspects are in prison. The man accused of doing the actual murders, Leroy Johnson is expected to go to trial next year.

But, for Neko, Jacque Wilson said, "Today was a sense of justice. 9 and a half years ago, I had to explain to my father they wanted to kill him, he was facing the death penalty, today he can walk out."

Neko Wilson will be back in court on November 16th, when he will be sentenced to 9 years in prison, but because he's already served the time he will be set free.
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