CAMDEN Teary-eyed family members, facing a struggle from within, packed four of five rows in the Camden County courtroom Monday.
They were mourning the death of Scarlett Wilson, 42, a pregnant woman stabbed Sunday night - while also trying to support the suspect, her 21-year-old son, Leon.
As an assistant prosecutor read Leon Wilson's possible sentence - 30 years to life - some of the nearly three dozen family members moaned in despair. Then one stood.
"I love you, dude!" he yelled through tears in Leon Wilson's direction.
The outburst marked the height of an emotionally charged arraignment in Superior Court, where prosecutors described the moments leading to Scarlett Wilson's death.
Wilson was stabbed multiple times around 9:45 p.m. Sunday during an argument with her son in their Gloucester City home in the 600 block of Jersey Avenue, police said. Another person who lives at the home called 911 after seeing Leon Wilson push his mother to the ground and hearing her yell, "No, no, no!" according to a probable cause affidavit.
Officers found Leon Wilson holding a bloody knife, his clothing stained red, the affidavit said.
His mother's baby was delivered safely at Cooper University Hospital, despite the two dozen wounds prosecutors said the mother received. One family member said that Wilson was seven months pregnant and that the baby was a boy they named Seven.
On Monday, Leon Wilson remained nearly expressionless, except for a few moments in which he tightened his lips. Seven court officers stood between him and his family.
"Obviously in a case like this, emotions are sky-high," said Judge Edward J. McBride Jr., asking for order before Leon Wilson was led into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackled in chains.
Leon Wilson spoke little during the arraignment, only responding quietly with "I don't know" when McBride asked whether he planned to hire an attorney.
Behind Leon Wilson, family members cried. One woman got on her knees, shaking her head back and forth as the judge read the charges.
Howard Gilfert, an assistant Camden County prosecutor, said Leon Wilson had been charged in the past with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and had a history of missing court appearances.
Gilfert asked McBride to consider Leon Wilson's mental stability in this case.
His family members poured out of the courtroom afterward, many still in tears. Chaos briefly erupted after the sound of someone kicking a chair sent court officers running down the crowded hallway. Some of Wilson's family then jammed into an elevator to leave the building.
Several family members interviewed mentioned Leon Wilson's good qualities.
"He was a good kid," said Anthony Land, 21, of Camden, one of his cousins. "And he didn't mean to do that."
Added Michelle Wilson, 40, of Camden, one of his aunts: "He's a very good kid, always has been."
"There's not much you can do right now," she added, pausing. "Prayer," she continued. "That's what going to help."