A jury this afternoon convicted William “Wild Bill” Nelson of the attempted murder of a Humboldt County sheriff’s deputy, according to Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel.
Nelson shot deputy Bang Cao once in the chest as Cao was trying to serve a judge’s order forcing Nelson to move out of his girlfriend’s Shelter Cove home. Nelson faces life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled to occur Jan. 15.
For more detail on Nelson’s case and trial, read Friday’s post below.
William “Wild Bill” Nelson’s fate now rests with a Humboldt County jury.
Nelson, who stands accused of the attempted murder of Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Bang Cao on May 6, watched as attorneys in the case gave closing arguments yesterday and today. This morning, as Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel told jurors how prosecutors believe he concealed himself behind protective cover before opening fire on deputies, Nelson erupted.
“She’s lying about that,” he said loudly, rising to his feet at the defense table. “They have had evidence they concealed from the jury.”
Nelson’s attorney, public defender Greg Elvine-Kreis, tried to quiet him.
“I don’t care,” Nelson said, his voice still raised. “I’ve tried to fire you three times. What the hell have you done for me?”
Judge Marilyn Miles ordered the jury out of the courtroom before admonishing Nelson that he needed to control himself and sit quietly or she’d have him removed for the duration of the proceeding. After Nelson repeatedly promised that he’d sit quietly, Miles let the jurors back in and asked them to disregard his outburst.
Nelson, who has a lengthy history of crimes and allegations in and around Shelter Cove, was arrested
May 6 after allegedly opening fire on Cao and Sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Swithenbank while the officers were attempting to serve him with court papers ordering him to move out of his girlfriend’s home. Nelson allegedly shot Cao once in the chest at close proximity during the exchange, and Sheriff Mike Downey has said it’s likely Cao would not have survived but for his bulletproof vest.
During her closing argument today, Neel aimed to rebut the defense’s charge that the officers acted inappropriately in serving the move-out order and that Nelson was fearful of the officers and acting in self defense when he opened fire.
Evidence in the case, Neel said, shows that the officers were careful as they approached Nelson’s residence, knowing him to be volatile and armed. They knocked on the door, identifying themselves as police officers and telling him they had some paperwork for him. Neel said the officers heard Nelson answer, “What do you want?,” before they heard the bolt lock on the door latch shut.
The officers waited, Neel said, while Nelson apparently armed himself and took up a tactical position behind protective covering. From there, he told Cao and Swithenbank to get off his property before opening fire. “He aimed and he fired dead-center mass,” Neel said. “He tried to kill that deputy.”
Neel went on to argue that Nelson’s actions constitute the deliberate, premeditated attempted murder of a police officer. “Mr. Nelson made a calculated, thought-out, reasoned decision and he acted on it,” she said.
After Nelson opened fire, Neel said the scene was chaotic, with both Cao and Swithenbank shooting back as they attempted to flee the scene. Nelson was ultimately arrested without incident later that day after the Sheriff’s Office mobilized the SWAT team and cordoned off a large section of Shelter Cove.
Immediately following Nelson’s outburst in front of the jury this morning, Elvine-Kreis asked Miles to declare a mistrial in the case, saying the jury couldn’t possibly decide the case fairly. Neel objected. “Mr. Nelson doesn’t get to act out in court and create a mistrial,” she said. “That’s not how it works.”
Miles agreed, and jury deliberations are currently ongoing. Nelson faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted in the case.
For a detailed look at Nelson's past, check out prior Journal