Entries in James Ward (5)


Convicted Fla. Millionaire: Jury Didn't Understand What Happened

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- James Robert "Bob" Ward, the millionaire Florida developer convicted of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife, said in a jailhouse interview that he didn't think the jury realized what really happened the night Diane Ward died.

Clad in a dark blue jail jumpsuit, Ward seemed to blame his defense for failing to convey an accurate picture of how the incident played out on the night of Sept. 21, 2009.

"She was on my side of the bed, right behind me, holding a gun," Ward told News 13's Jacqueline Fell on Wednesday from inside the Orange County Jail, where he is awaiting sentencing. "And that's what the evidence showed, that she was right behind me holding a gun.  I turned around and it was a split second -- I'm talking about a blink of an eye -- that I had to grab a gun and stop I don't know what from happening."

"For some reason, the jury didn't understand that and our side didn't get that across," he said.  "And I mentioned several times during the trial to my attorney ... I said, 'I don't think they understand where Diane was when this happened.'  So what was she doing right behind me on my side of the bed?"

Asked if he thought his wife was trying to kill him, Ward replied, "I don't know what she was thinking.  All I know is she had a gun and I had to get it out of her hand."

He later added, "All I know is it went off.  I don't know how it went off."

Ward could face up to life in prison when his sentence is handed down on Nov. 8.  He was convicted last month of shooting his 55-year-old wife to death.

He admitted shooting his wife, but during the trial his defense called the incident a tragic accident.  The defense said Diane Ward had a strong mix of alcohol and antidepressants in her system, and that she could have been suicidal.  His attorney said Ward was just trying to save his wife when she was killed.

But prosecutors argued that Ward, 63, murdered his wife in a fit of rage inside the couple's Isleworth, Fla., mansion.  She was killed just days from a scheduled deposition on a series of issues related to her husband's bankrupt company.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jury to Deliberate in Florida Millionaire's Murder Trial

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- After multiple outbursts in court this week, millionaire developer James Robert "Bob" Ward chose to stay silent when asked if he wanted to take the stand in the trial where he is accused of shooting and killing his wife.

Diane Ward, 55, was found dead in the Isleworth, Fla., home she shared with the wealthy land developer in September 2009.  Ward, 63, is accused of shooting her at point blank range.

The defense team has argued that a combination of high amounts of alcohol along with depression medication caused Diane Ward to become suicidal, leading her husband to grab the gun from her hand.

In closing arguments Thursday, Ward's attorney Kirk Kirkconnell presented the defense's claim -- that his client was trying to prevent his wife from killing herself when the gun went off.

"We don't know if it was a suicide or not, and we don't know what her intentions were when she took that gun," Kirkconnell told the court.

Prosecutors disagree, and argue that Ward, in a fit of rage, intentionally shot his wife in the face.

"This is about a dead woman and the laws of the state of Florida," the prosecution said.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Friday.

If convicted, Ward could face more than 20 years in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Daughter Testifies In Florida Millionaire Murder Trial

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ISLEWORTH, Fla) -- Diane Ward, 55, was found dead Sept. 21, 2009, in the Florida home she shared with her husband, wealthy land developer James Robert “Bob” Ward.

Two years later, in a Florida courtroom where Bob Ward, 63, is being tried for his wife’s murder, the jury heard wrenching testimony as the couple’s family members took the stand.

Defense attorney Kirk Kirkconnell called on the couple’s daughter, Sarah, and Diane’s sister, Paula Saare, to paint a happy and loving relationship of the couple.

On the stand, Saare relived her last conversations with her sister.

“No, they were both laughing. No, they were having a great time,” Saare testified when asked by Kirkconnell if she detected any anger or hatred between her sister and Bob Ward in their final conversations.  “No, not at all,” she said.

The couple’s daughter, Sarah, took the stand to tell the same story.  She told the jury she loved both her parents very much, but also described her mother under the influence of alcohol.

“My mother threw a suitcase at me when she was drinking red wine,” she told the courtroom.

The defense team believes a combination of high amounts of alcohol along with depression medication led Diane Ward to become suicidal, leading her husband to grab the gun from her hand.

Prosecutors for the state disagree. They say Ward, in a fit of rage, intentionally shot his wife in the face.
Prosecutors say the family’s failing company, Land Resources, may have been the motive in her death.  Attorneys wanted to depose Diane Ward for a series of issues with her husband’s bankrupt company in the days before her death.

Ward allegedly transferred money to his wife to pay for cars, mortgages, trips to the Cayman Islands and Europe, tuition for their children and a life insurance policy.

The courtroom heard Bob Ward’s first call to his brother-in-law, Glen Saare, placed from inside a police holding center, telling him of Diane’s death.

“Diane is dead. And it’s a long story, but she’s dead,” he said.

When Saare asked how Diane died, Ward replied bluntly, “That’s another story.”

That other story is the central question of this second-degree murder case. Bob Ward says he tried to stop his wife from killing herself when the gun went off, firing a single bullet into her face.

Emotions in the courtroom continued to run high Tuesday when prosecutor Robin Wilkinson asked Sarah Ward about the events leading up to her mother’s death.

Bob Ward banged his hand on the courtroom table and put his head down as his daughter started crying after Wilkinson went through a line of questioning.

As Ward was consoled by his attorney, Sarah tried to leave the stand, but was overcome with emotion.

The trial continued on Wednesday with Judge Jennifer Davis set to issue a ruling on a defense request to grant a judgment of acquittal.  Pending her decision, the defense will then present its case.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Florida Millionaire on Trial for Wife's Murder

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Millionaire developer James Robert "Bob" Ward shot his wife dead in a fit of rage in the bedroom of the Florida couple's mansion, prosecutors told a jury Thursday during opening statements in Ward's murder trial, while his defense characterized the death as a "tragic accident."

"This case is about the fact that it was Bob Ward that shot her almost dead between the eyes," Assistant State Attorney Robin Wilkinson said in an Orange County, Fla., courthouse Thursday.

The prosecution played a recording of the 911 call Ward made to police moments after his wife, Diane, was shot to death in their Isleworth home on Sept. 21, 2009.  The 55-year-old woman was killed just days before her scheduled deposition in an investigation into whether her husband took money from his companies to support his lavish lifestyle.

"I just shot my wife … I just shot my wife.  I just shot my wife.  She's dead.  She's done.  I'm sorry," he says in the tape.

His daughter, Sarah Ward, cried when she heard the tape.  Her father consoled her.

Prosecutors say Ward, 63, admitted to shooting his wife, then changed his story to say she killed herself as he was trying to take the gun away from her.

But defense attorney Kirk Kirkconnell outlined a different scenario for jurors, telling them Diane Ward had a strong mix of alcohol and antidepressants in her system, and that her husband was just trying to save her when she was killed.

"He hears a sound behind him.  He turns to the sound and right there is his wife with the gun in her hand.  With a loaded gun in her hand.  She is right there.  She is right on top of him.  Not a word is spoken.  What do you do in that situation?  Instinctively Bob grabs the gun tries to wrestle it away," Kirkconnell said.

Gunshot tests prove the victim was shot from 18 inches away, making it difficult for her to have killed herself, the prosecution said.

Ward is charged with second-degree murder.  His trial is taking place in the same court where Casey Anthony was acquitted, marking the second notorious trial in Orlando, Fla., in a matter of months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jury Selection Underway in Florida Millionaire Murder Trial

Photos dot com/Jupiterimages(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.

" was an accident and I will tell you more about it later, but it was a very tragic accident," Ward told one loved one.

Jailhouse video captured Ward dancing and laughing with his daughter and sister-in-law.

His daughter told him, "There's money in the account for you to get stuff, all sorts of goodies. You can buy a bra so I was thinking you'd enjoy that and hemorrhoid cream."

Ward replied, "I'm right here, the Ritz!"

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," said ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams.

Prosecutors argue that Bob Ward's DNA was found on the gun and that Diane Ward was shot from over 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.

When jury selection began Monday, potential jurors were asked about how much they knew about the case and the videos of Ward laughing and joking.

One excused juror couldn't understand the videos.

"I thought why is he laughing about the situation," she told the courtroom.

Another excused juror said that his daughters made him a sympathetic figure.

"My biggest concern is the girls," she told the court.

Legal analyst Abrams said that the defense should worry about a Casey Anthony backlash during their trial.

"In Orlando right now, there's probably some level of disappointment, frustration that they've become the focus of the nation for the verdict that shouldn't have happened...the defense should at least be concerned about the possibility of Casey Anthony backlash, a jury that doesn't want to be seen as the next Casey Anthony jury."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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