Trial of Nia Wilson’s accused killer on hold as he undergoes mental evaluation

The man accused of killing an 18-year-old woman and critically wounding her sister will not have to stand trial in the immediate future in order to undergo analysis of his mental state

Nia Wilson John Cowell thegrio.com
Nia Wilson | John Cowell

On Thursday, Nia Wilson’s alleged killer was spared from facing a trial for now, after a judge ordered that he undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is fit to stand trial after the fatal stabbing of the 18-year-old woman and serious injuring of her sister at an Oakland BART station last summer, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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John Lee Cowell, 28, was charged with Wilson’s murder but his defense attorney argued that he was experiencing mental health issues that rendered him unable to defend himself.

“It appears the delusions and paranoia have been increasing in frequency,” defense attorney Christina Moore told Judge James Cramer in an Oakland courtroom Thursday.

Moore contends that while she risks divulging too much private information about her client’s mental state, she outlined his past mental troubles to offer insight into his mental condition.

Cowell was reportedly hospitalized 22 times between 2012 and 2018, Moore said. He was often held on an involuntary hold known as a 5150 because of the risk of harm to himself. He has been homeless and spent a number of years back and forth in and out of lockup, she reported.

In one bizarre interaction with a doctor, she said during a July 23 arrest, Cowell asked a doctor to remove his breast implants.

Cramer determined that there was sufficient evident to postpone the trial for now.

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Two doctors will reportedly examine Cowell. The competency hearing, when the judge will receive the two doctors’ reports, is set for Feb. 13.

The decision angered Wilson’s family who has been waiting for months for the trail to start

“I want justice for my daughters, that’s the only thing I want. Justice for my daughters,” said Wilson’s father, Ansar Mohammed, outside the courtroom Thursday morning.

When asked is he wanted Cowell to face the death penalty, he said, “I’ll leave that to the creator.”

Wilson’s mother, Alicia Grayson, said last week that she believes Cowell knew exactly what he was doing when he stabbed Wilson and her sister, Letifah in the neck.