Mother testifies in gruesome Putnam County murder trial, suspect faces death penalty

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Day one of the trial against Mark Wilson started in Putnam County Tuesday after it was pushed back a day because of a conflict with a juror.


Robert Baker, 12, and his brother Tayten, 14, were murdered in their Melrose home on Aug. 26, 2020.

The boys’ mother, Sarah, took the stand as the state’s first witness.

“I ran over to Robert and I’m screaming at him to call 911. I ripped his blanket off — all I can remember is his head flipped forward and banged back against the wall. He was the same (as Tayten) — soaked in blood,” she told jurors.

Her testimony brought family members in the courtroom to tears. The boys’ grandfather, Andrew Benson, waited outside.

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“I can’t be in there to hear her talk about it. I’ll break down. I got to leave. I can’t be in there,” he said.

Mark Wilson Jr. was dating the boys’ aunt, Cindy, at the time of the murder. The couple was staying at the Bakers’ home after Sarah invited them, because she says their apartment was not fit for their 15-month-old child.

“If you can’t get it together, I’m going to have no choice but to turn you into DCF,” Sarah recalled saying to Wilson.

According to a warrant, Wilson told deputies he felt threatened and had planned to kill the entire family with Cindy. However, he said she didn’t hold up her end of the deal. Cindy does not face any charges.

Wilson faces two counts of first-degree murder, burglary with assault or battery, and burglary while armed.

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He already admitted to the crime. “He’s remorseful and takes accountability for what he’s done,” Wilson’s defense attorneys said during opening statements. “This is a tough case, a very tough case; but not a case of first-degree murder.”

“You can’t bring them back — we’re constantly reminded of them. There’s nothing that can be done through this trial or anything that would help or make it better,” Deborah Benson, the boys’ grandmother, said. The family is testifying for the death penalty.

Benson also took the stand Tuesday. Sarah ran to her house a couple blocks away, after finding her kids murdered.

“There was (Sarah’s) little dog at my feet. The door was open so I thought a dog did it. ‘Must be the dog came in.’ His throat was just so ripped open,” Benson said.

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The state also called a crime analyst from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The pictures of evidence were so gruesome, some family members left the courtroom. Jurors also saw pictures of the alleged murder weapons, including a filet knife and hammer.