ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Prosecutors have filed a murder charge against a woman accused of shooting her husband in his sleep. Kathy Jo Ward, 36, was being held without bond Saturday in the Madison County Jail. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf Friday by a county magistrate.
Ward was arrested Monday after going to her parents' home and telling them she had killed her husband, 43-year-old John W. Ward, at their home in Pendleton, about 20 miles northeast of Indianapolis, police said. Documents filed by prosecutors Friday allege that Kathy Ward killed her husband hours after an argument in which he admitted drug use and infidelity and told her she should be checked for sexually transmitted diseases.
On Monday, the morning following the confrontation, Kathy Ward got a gun out of her car, went back inside and shot her husband while he slept, the documents allege. One of her attorneys, Bryan Williams, said Friday that additional details would emerge when the case went to trial.
Distress over a crumbling marriage and fear of a violent husband transformed Kathy Jo Ward from a responsible wife and mother into a killer.
A jury found Ward, 37, guilty of voluntary manslaughter Friday in the December 2006 shooting death of her husband, John W. Ward. Madison Circuit Court Judge Frederick Spencer has set sentencing at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 15.
The charge carries a mandatory sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison. Ward was originally charged with murder, which carries a sentence of 45 to 65 years.
Jurors returned the verdict Friday after more than three hours of deliberation. In a post-trial conference with attorneys on both sides, the jury cited “sudden heat” for making the offense less severe.
“Her frame of mind,” one juror responded, when asked his reason for the lesser charge, “the rage in her.”
The trial revealed a marriage in disarray. John Ward was actively looking for an apartment while his wife pursued a divorce. During an argument-filled weekend in which he smoked crack and spent nights away from home, Ward told his wife he never loved her and had been unfaithful.
The defense team of Bryan Williams and Jeffrey Lockwood said Ward feared for her safety; her husband was an “intimidator and a manipulator” who had previously used violence against women. They said Ward was experiencing a rush of emotion known as “sudden heat,” considered a mitigating factor in cases of wrongful death.
All along, however, the prosecution insisted Ward’s “knowingly and intentionally” killed her husband.
“The evidence will show that this was not sudden heat,” Madison County Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Ragains said in closing arguments. “What happened the night before, I believe the evidence will show, was over. She was a little late.”
Ward’s 15-year-old son, Michael, sobbed in the courtroom after the verdict was read.
“I just want my mom back,” he said, as his maternal grandfather and other family members comforted him.
With good behavior, Ward could spend less than 10 years in prison.
“The difference for her is that Michael will still be a young man when he gets out,” Bryan Williams said. “He won’t be a middle-aged man. She’ll be there for most of his life.”
Co-defender Jeffrey Lockwood said he was unsure whether the verdict would be appealed.
“It’s too early to say. We still have sentencing and the appeal could depend on that,” he said. “We also have to talk to (Ward) and determine whether she wants to pursue an appeal. Another lawyer may even represent her in that.”
During closing arguments, deputy prosecutor Ragains asked jurors to find Ward guilty of murder, saying her actions did not suggest sudden heat.
“He said a lot of hurtful things to her,” Ragains said. “Did she go down right away and get the gun? That’s consistent with sudden heat, consistent with involuntary manslaughter. That didn’t happen.”
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So they may not be forgotten...
News articles disappear after time, sometimes within weeks. This website won't disappear. It was brought about because of my absolute disgust with April Will's death in Indianapolis. After the shock wore off, I decided to make sure nobody would forget the victims. Feel free to contact me with victims to add if they have not been added yet. I am working at adding victims for the past several years, at least back to 2004. Beyond that, it is difficult to find information. I am adding any domestic violence death in Indiana (however I am not listing perpetrators that died as a result of murder-suicide).
I have done my best to try and find pictures of all the dear victims so they will not be forgotten. If not available, a burning candle or angel is placed instead. If you have a picture of one of the victims you'd like to share, please contact me at the email address below. Thank you.