I wasn't shocked because our country has a tendency to favor defendants who can afford to pay multiple high-priced attorneys when they get into trouble with the law. Remember OJ and his "dream team?" I was shocked at the ridiculously low bond amount that was set. Judge Komanski, at the end of the 2-hour hearing, decided that $100k was sufficient to ensure Mr. Ward's appearance at trial. That means he only had to post $10k. A hefty sum for most of us, but chicken feed for someone of his means. For someone who, even though his business was in bankruptcy, can afford to hire some high powered attorneys, the amount is a slap in Diane's face.
There was never any detailed testimony about his financial holdings, something that Assistant State Attorney Robin Wilkinson attempted to elicit, but was abruptly prevented from doing.
There was testimony that Mr. Ward had threatened suicide in a conversation with his brother-in-law. Perhaps a murder-suicide was planned, but he changed his mind. We don't know how much time elapsed between the gunshot, the placing of the gun in the nightstand, and the 911 call. Only one person knows what really happened in that bedroom.
There was testimony that none of the character witnesses, presumably the people who knew him best, were unaware of the extent of his financial woes. He did a good job of keeping that a secret.
The character witnesses that spoke on his behalf were all financially dependent upon the Mr. Ward. They were:
- John Mitchell Thomas, friend in 1985 for a year, lost touch & renewed their friendship 3-4 years ago testified he saw the Bob & Diane together only 3-4 times and that they seemed to respect and care for each other. Thomas testified he'd been to the Ward home only one time. He admitted he did not know the status of their relationship. He worked for Ward for a couple of years.
- Patricia Wilkinson, employed by Ward as a housekeeper / "Girl Friday" since they purchased the Isleworth home 2 1/2 years ago
- Mallory Ward, daughter
- Sara Ward, daughter
- Paula Saare, Diane's sister, employed by Ward's company admitted that she asked the detective to rule Diane's death as an accident
The Sentinel reported on September 27th that Mr. Ward's first wife Janis made allegations of cruelty in their divorce 32 years ago. And an ex-girlfriend who dated Ward for about five years in the 1980s reported that he was a charming and generous man who wrestled with bouts of jealous rage and possessiveness — especially when he was drinking. These behaviors, along with the ability to keep secrets, are typical of someone who has abusive tendencies in their intimate partner relationships.
I also find it interesting that no mention of alcohol was made during the hearing, and yet it was reported in the Sentinel's October 9th coverage.
Also puzzling to me, and to many others, is the wholehearted support by Diane's sister and by the daughters for the man who is accused of murdering her. Ward's demeanor, as well, is baffling. His behavior in jail, his lack of apparent grief for his wife (as was demonstrated in a tragic accidental shooting of Nancy Dinsmore this weekend in Winter Springs), and his air of nonchalance at the entire process makes one think that perhaps he feels as though somehow he doesn't have to live by the same rules that the rest of us do.
I was stunned by Kirk Kirkconnell's lame attempt at humor when he realized in his closing argument what a foolish thing he said when discounting Ward's suicide threat. To paraphrase, he said, "Who among us hasn't threatened to kill themselves or their wife? We all have!" He then looked sheepishly over his shoulder and said "My wife's not here, is she?" Perhaps it was a Freudian slip. But it was offensive to every victim whose voice has been silenced by domestic violence. If you hear someone threaten to take a gun and blow their brains out, don't ignore the threat.
Finally, a $100k bail for someone with Ward's means is meaningless - even if his mansion is going into foreclosure. For most of us, a $100k bond would be a huge incentive to return to court. I would guess his attorneys' retainers exceeded that much already. At this point, he has no reason to flee. It certainly looks like things are going his way.
Has anybody bothered to make funeral arrangements for Diane yet? After all, she died 3 weeks ago. Seems to me that nobody really cares about her.
For more info, the Sentinel has a comprehensive list of articles and videos available online. The entire 2-hr bond hearing may be viewed at WFTV's site (it is broken up into 5 segments).