There were signs that something was wrong when a local man and woman went to check on their adult daughter’s home before she returned from Christmas vacation in 2017. There was a strange charring around the front doorknob, and the key wouldn’t turn normally. Something seemed to be wedged behind the door. A window of the home had been marked on with what looked like lipstick: Someone had written the word “Hi” beneath a drawing of two eyes. Then there were the odd statements that the daughter had told them her estranged husband, Michael Scott Wilson, had made to her before she began her drive home to Palm Coast from vacation in Kentucky.
“He told her when she went home, to make sure to use the front door, but to not do it with (the couple’s daughter) because he didn’t want (the daughter) to get hurt,” Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark explained in court June 17.
It was that statement, and others like it, that Wilson made while traveling with the victim that prompted the victim to call her parents as she made the drive home. They offered to check the house. The blackening around the knob prompted them to call the Sheriff’s Office.
A deputy arrived and mule-kicked the door twice, opening it.
“When I did that (kicked it), there was a bright flash and a popping sound,” Deputy Greg Weston told the jury.
He could see wires and what looked like a battery: the home was booby-trapped, and the door rigged such that if someone placed a key in the lock and grabbed the door knob at the same time, they would be closing a circuit, and the current would flow from one hand through the chest and past the heart and then out the other arm, according to Wilson’s arrest report.
The electricity was enough to potentially kill someone, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Weston and other deputies that checked the house found that the wires led to an automotive battery charger and wiring that had been pulled from a salt rock lamp in the home.
When deputies later spoke with the wife, she told them that Wilson had fallen to the ground during a medical episode several months before, and that his behavior since then had changed.
He’d been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility under a Baker Act, received a diagnosis, moved out of the area and hadn’t — as far as she knew — been back to their home since.
But while he was gone, ostensibly out of the state, she got alerts from her surveillance camera system notifying her that the cameras were being taken offline.
And when he met up with her in Tennessee for a vacation to see family members, he made comments indicating he’d been to the house: He asked her about the cameras and about a gun she was keeping in the house, neither of which she’d told him about.
But Wilson is arguing that the trap wasn’t made for his estranged ex-wife — even though, according to the prosecution, he’d laid out his wife’s sonogram photos on the home’s counter — she was pregnant with their second child — and, on a bed, had set out “’love letter’ style sticky notes” and a photo album opened to a picture of him and his wife together, according to his arrest affidavit.
By the time Wilson was arrested in connection with the crime, he’d changed his Facebook relationship status to “widowed,” according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s Office report.
Wilson’s public defender, Regina Nunnally, told the jury that he had gone to the house after he’d moved out, and had noticed that it had surveillance cameras, and that there was a firearm in a cabinet above the stove.
But when he’d asked his wife about those things, she’d been evasive, Nunnally said.
“And at that point, Mr. Wilson panicked; he just sees this stuff sitting there — what is this stuff for?” Nunnally said. “So he does put a trickle wire, and he does put up a barricade.”
Nunnally told the jury that the prosecution and defense disagree on what Wilson told the victim about the front door: The prosecution is saying that he’d told her to use it. The defense is alleging that he’d told her not to use it, and to instead enter the house through the garage, and that he’d asked his father-in-law to take the device down.
“Bottom line is this, he never one time threatened (the victim’s) life,” Nunnally said. “(The device) wasn’t intended for (the victim). ... It was never intended for (the victim), it was never intended to harm her, it was never intended to hurt anyone, or kill anyone.”
The trial is expected to end on Thursday, June 20 or Friday, June 21.