Fifty-year-old Murray Wilson is led away from Superior Court of Justice,
on Pinnacle Street, by an OPP officer after the court heard evidence in
Wilson’s second degree murder case.
Photo: Photo by Nathan Denette
The judge in a pre-sentencing hearing wondered why a family did not confiscate
guns from a violent alcoholic man who used one of the firearms to kill his
75-year-old mother while she sat in a rocking chair.
“I don’t understand,” an incredulous Justice Richard Byers said, after
hearing testimony Thursday in Superior Court of Justice, Belleville, that on
several occasions, 50-year-old Murray Wilson expressed hatred for his mother
Velma and at one point even threatened her with a firearm prior to the murder,
Aug. 17, 2002.
“This man is dangerous when he drinks,” the justice said. “Did no one
think to take his guns away?”
Byers’ musings came during a pre-sentencing hearing to determine how many
years Wilson must serve before being eligible for parole. Earlier, he pled
guilty to second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
The justice’s remarks were directed toward Velma Wilson’s grandson, Colin
MacNeil, as he testified for the Crown.
MacNeil said whenever he brought up taking some action such as calling police,
his grandparents said, “‘It’s our problem. It doesn’t go beyond here
(the family).’” He also said that, in Bancroft, even if the guns were taken
from the Wilson home where Murray lived with his mother and father, it would
have been easy for the killer to secure another firearm because in Bancroft
everyone has a gun and “that’s just the norm.”
What was clear during Thursday’s testimony is that the Wilson family has a
deadly history with alcoholism, a point made repeatedly by witnesses under
questioning by defence attorney Bob Graydon. Four family members, all with
alcohol problems, committed suicide by shooting themselves, including Murray’s
Murray’s dad, Ewart, was also an alcoholic but quit drinking as soon as he
learned of his father’s suicide.
Drinking had a Jekyll and Hyde effect on Murray, the court heard. Several
witnesses testified that when not drinking, Murray was kind and generous with
“When Murray was sober he was a completely different individual,” said his
sister, Jacqueline MacNeil.
But she also told of how Velma Wilson, who loved her son dearly, was treated
with unprovoked “disrespect” by Murray.
Graydon asked MacNeil if Velma Wilson would have forgiven her son for his crime.
“Yes,” she replied.
MacNeil has no contact with Murray, who, immediately following the murder, went
to a neighbour’s house and confessed. He has since been incarcerated in
Napanee’s Quinte Detention Centre.
However, another sister, Marlene Foster, has remained close to Wilson and she
talked about her brother’s kindness when he was not drinking. She also said
she has forgiven him, because she had already lost her mother.
“I didn’t want to lose my brother, too,” she said, crying softly. In the
prisoner’s dock, wearing a brown sports coat and tie, Murray wiped tears from
his eyes, as well.
Last on the witness stand was Ewart Wilson, who was married to Velma for 56
Graydon asked why he was appearing on behalf of his son.
“Because I love him,” Ewart answered.
He said since his incarceration, Murray has apparently been free of alcohol and
has expressed remorse for the crime. He was asked by Graydon what should happen
to Murray as a result of the murder.
“He should pay for it in some way,” Ewart Wilson replied.
Following three hours of testimony from seven family members, including
Murray’s 85-year-old father Ewart, Byers set a sentencing date of Sept. 7.