John W. Ward

Woman charged with fatally shooting husband while he slept

December 23, 2006

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.


June 29, 2007

Ward guilty of voluntary manslaughter

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.”

Anthony Willis

Man dead after stabbing

December 10, 2006

Indianapolis - Anthony Willis of Indianapolis was stabbed early Sunday morning at a house in the 3300 block of East 30th Street and died later at a local hospital.

According to police Willis and his girlfriend, 38-year-old Karen Miller were in a dispute when Miller stabbed him in the upper left shoulder. The wound was not very deep but severed an artery.

Miller did not not call for help immediately. She did summon help 30 to 45 minutes later and Willis was transported to Wishard Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

It is the 101st homicide of the year in IPD jurisdiction.