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Tuesday
Sep132011

Florida Millionaire's Murder Trial: Jury Selection Underway

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of a Florida millionaire who called 911 from his mansion to announce that he had shot his wife in the face.

James Robert "Bob" Ward, 63, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges.  His trial will take place in the same court where Casey Anthony was acquitted, marking the second notorious trial in Orlando, Fla., in a matter of months.

On Sept. 21, 2009, Ward called 911 from the couple's exclusive Isleworth home, telling a dispatcher five times that he had shot his wife, Diane, in her face.  Isleworth is a community that was once home to celebrities like Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer.

"She's dead.  She's done.  I'm sorry," he said in the 911 call.

While being questioned later, Ward told police, "I'm really concerned about my wife and children.  I have two kids in college and it's a nightmare, but we probably need to go ahead and get a lawyer in here."

As the interrogation continued, Ward began to change his story, arguing that his wife actually pulled the trigger and committed suicide as he tried to take the gun away.  Diane Ward had high levels of an antidepressant in her system as well as alcohol, according to court documents.

During Ward's interrogation, detectives noted his oddly composed demeanor.

"James Ward was smiling, and seemed to be in an upbeat mood," one detective wrote in court documents.

Video captured Ward calling relatives to say that his wife was dead, and jailhouse footage caught him dancing and laughing with his daughter and sister-in-law.

ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said that the videos, while disconcerting, may not play a big factor in the trial.

"They make him look odd, they make him look bad, but I don't think it's going to be that significant in terms of guilt or innocence.  These are her [Diane Ward's] family members as well," Abrams said.

Prosecutors argue that Bob Ward's DNA was found on the gun and that Diane Ward was shot from more than a foot away.  Diane Ward was also shot within days of being scheduled to give a deposition in a financial investigation against her husband.  Bob Ward faced allegations that he took money from his companies to support his lavish lifestyle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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    Florida Millionaire's Murder Trial: Jury Selection Underway - National News - ABC News Radio

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