Nia Wilson's family dismisses reports suspect is mentally ill; mourns loss

The family of Nia Wilson showed up to an Oakland courtroom on Wednesday for their first look at the man suspected of killing the 18-year-old.

Wilson’s father, Ansar al Muhammad, said the past three days had been extremely painful for his family.

“My daughter was everything to me,” Muhammad said. “She was so beautiful and so inspirational, had dream. I am supposed to be planning her graduation, not her funeral.”

The funeral service for Nia Wilson is set for Friday morning in Oakland. The ceremony honoring Nia Wilson will be held at Acts Full Gospel Church on 66th Avenue. It begins at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. 

The suspect, a 27-year-old transient, John Lee Cowell, is accused of stabbing Nia Wilson and her sister at the MacArthur BART station on Sunday, July 22. Nia was pronounced dead at the scene; her sister is recovering at home.

Wilson’s family is dismissing reports that Cowell has mental health issues. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, who rarely attends hearings in cases her office prosecutes, but came to Cowell's hearing, said there is no evidence so far to suggest it was a hate crime.

Muhammad said Nia was set to graduate from Dewey Academy with honors and planned to join the military. 

“I will never see my daughter again,” he said. “She’ll never be able to pursue her dreams and no parent ever wants to go through what I’m going through right now. All I want is justice for my daughter. That’s it, that’s all.”

Nia Wilson's mother Alicia Grayson and other family members wore placards over their necks with photos of Nia but left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.

Muhammad also said his family has been receiving a lot of love from the community.

“I want to say thank you for the support shown to my family,” he added.

Cowell could face two terms of life in prison if he's convicted of the charges against him and that sentence could be doubled to four life terms based on his three-strikes status, according to O'Malley.

Bay City News wire service contributed to this report