- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2004

A man who blamed the 1987 death of his baby on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was convicted yesterday of first-degree murder for smothering the boy to collect thousands of dollars of insurance money.

Garrett Wilson, 47, sat motionless as the Montgomery County Circuit Court jury verdict was read, glancing down only briefly at the defense table. It is the second time he has been found guilty of killing his son, Garrett Michael. The first conviction in 1999 was overturned on appeal.

Wilson was charged only with the death of his son, but during his two-week trial prosecutors presented evidence of the 1981 death of his infant daughter to prove a pattern. Brandi Jean’s death was also originally attributed to SIDS and Wilson also had a large insurance policy on her life.

In the front row of the courtroom, Garrett Michael’s mother, Missy Anastasi, let out a gasp and beamed, clutching the hands of relatives.

“It killed me that we had to do this again,” Mrs. Anastasi said afterward, adding that she was relieved Wilson was convicted a second time. “It’s such an emotional thing.”

Wilson’s attorneys said they planned to file an appeal, citing the fact that the judge allowed evidence on Brandi Jean even though Wilson was not charged with her death.

“There are still a lot of issues in the case,” attorney Brian Shefferman said.

Wilson could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at an Aug. 4 hearing.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Wilson was a calculating killer who smothered children from different wives to help pay off his mounting debts.

In both cases, Wilson was alone with the infants when they died and collected large sums of money. When Brandi Jean died at 2 months old, he received $40,000 in insurance. After Garrett Michael died at nearly 6 months old, Wilson was paid $150,000. Neither of his wives knew he had insurance policies on the children.

Both were initially classified as SIDS deaths, but investigators later reopened the cases after Mrs. Anastasi approached authorities with doubts about her former husband.

Wilson awaits trial in Brandi Jean’s death in Prince George’s County.

His first conviction in Montgomery County was overturned in 2002 by the Maryland Court of Appeals, which ruled the trial judge should not have allowed two prosecution experts to testify using statistics that showed SIDS was highly unlikely to occur twice in the same family.

Jurors in his second trial said they were swayed by the similarities between the two deaths and the fact that Wilson sat stone-faced even as photos of his dead babies were shown in court.

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