John Lee Cowell was found guilty during a hearing for fatally stabbing Nia Wilson on a platform of the Macarthur BART station in 2018.
According to reports John Lee Cowell was found guilty on charges of murder and attempted murder. He faces serving his sentence at a state mental facility or life in prison. According to the prosecutors, the second charge was for the attempted stabbing of Wilson’s sister, Letifah. Cowell attacked the Wilson sisters as they waited for a train at the MacArthur station around 9:35 p.m. on July 22, 2018.
Alameda County Prosecutor Butch Ford told the jury prior to the verdict that Cowell should be convicted of first-degree murder since he was well aware of his actions at the time. The defense argued about Cowell’s diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and stated: “his mind was completely divorced from reality.”
During his testimony, Cowell claimed he heard voices in his head and assumed the Wilson sisters were “aliens” who wore a disguise. He also claimed the young women “kidnapped” his grandmother and threatened to harm her. However, it was determined by a psychiatrist that Cowell was competent to stand trial despite his history of mental health problems.
A separate trial was scheduled where Cowell pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.