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Old September 30, 2011, 09:08 PM   #1
ClydeFrog
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Bob Ward murder conviction; OrlandoSentinel.com...

I wanted to share an important point on TFL with a few of forum members who say things like; "hey, so what" or "the type of gun doesn't matter in a shooting incident".
Robert "Bob" Ward was convicted of 2nd degree murder in the shooting of his wife near Orlando Florida.
Ward owned a newer model S&W Sc or Ti type revolver with a fiber optic front sight. This revolver fired the round that killed the woman in the incident.
The jury members asked to review the S&W revolver when they had to decide Bob Ward's fate.
A jury member told the local media source; www.OrlandoSentinel.com that the Smith & Wesson's 12lb trigger pull and the handgun design played factors in their conviction of Ward!
These jury members looked directly at the handgun & used it as part of the verdict.
This action should be clear to anyone who carrys a firearm or uses a loaded firearm for defense.
Be ready & able to justify your actions or decisions in court.

Better URL - GEM http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...,7926447.story

Last edited by Glenn E. Meyer; October 1, 2011 at 01:37 PM. Reason: Better link
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Old September 30, 2011, 09:13 PM   #2
RamItOne
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"the Smith & Wesson's 12lb trigger pull and the handgun design played factors in their conviction of Ward!"

defense said it went off accidentally. guess if he had a 2.5# pull 1911 it would have been more plausible.
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Old September 30, 2011, 11:29 PM   #3
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
This action should be clear to anyone who carrys a firearm or uses a loaded firearm for defense.
Be ready & able to justify your actions or decisions in court.
While true, this case isn't exactly relevant to your statement. Ward never claimed to be shooting in self defense. He claimed his wife killed herself. Of course during the 911 call, Ward stated that he shot and killed his wife.

The reason the 12 lb. trigger pull was critical in the case was salient to Ward's claims that the gun "just went off." Apparently with such a heavy trigger, the jury didn't buy the claim at all. So it was a factor, but then again so were things like the distance of the shot, the fact that the wife was going to give a deposition a week later to an insurance company that was suing Ward for $20 million.

Diane Ward was shot between the eyes from 18" away. The jury requested a yard stick to use to assess how Diane Ward could have made such a shot. While maybe not impossible for such a shot to be made during suicide, they apparently didn't think it would be likely either.
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Old October 1, 2011, 01:09 AM   #4
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Ya... I'm with DNS on this one. I think you got a little confused.
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Old October 1, 2011, 02:24 AM   #5
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I had thought, from previous Sentinel articles, that Ward's attorneys claimed he was trying to take the gun from his wife when it went off.

Hence, accidental shooting, with possible self-defense overtones. (Although I'd thought the story was he was trying to not let her shoot herself...)

Edit: I just checked. Ward's defense team did indeed claim that he was trying to stop his wife from committing suicide, and struggling with her over the gun, when it went off.

In addition to the jury's concerns over the distance from the victim's head, and the weight and length of pull of the revolver - and probably much more importantly - Ward OPTED NOT TO TESTIFY.

We all have a right not to take the stand. However, for factually innocent people, this is not usually a good idea. Whether we have the right or not, juries do not tend to look favorably on those who won't speak to defend themselves. Common assumption is the defendant does indeed have something to hide, or something that he does not want brought up in cross-examination.

In this case, there probably was reason for that, based on the evidence....

Last edited by MLeake; October 1, 2011 at 02:43 AM.
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Old October 1, 2011, 07:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Ward never claimed to be shooting in self defense. He claimed his wife killed herself. Of course during the 911 call, Ward stated that he shot and killed his wife.
That would do it.
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Old October 1, 2011, 08:49 AM   #7
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Double Naught Spy has it right. The case has nothing to do with the OP premise.

Jerry
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Old October 1, 2011, 01:21 PM   #8
MLeake
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JerryM, DNS has it partially right.

While I don't believe Ward's defense team, the case they presented did explain Ward's 911 call.

He was trying to take the gun away from his suicidal wife, and in the struggle, it went off, killing her.

A grieving husband could very well feel at that point that he had shot his wife; after reflection, and objective inputs from outsiders, he could realize that he wasn't really guilty of that.

However, based on other factors, I don't think that's what really happened. Apparently, neither did the jury.
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Old October 1, 2011, 01:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Apparently with such a heavy trigger, the jury didn't buy the claim at all
Nor would I, even with a light 1911 (or any weapon) you must still activate the trigger.

Thus why you do not point a firearm at anything you do not intend to deatroy, even by accident.
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Old October 1, 2011, 01:33 PM   #10
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
JerryM, DNS has it partially right.

While I don't believe Ward's defense team, the case they presented did explain Ward's 911 call.

He was trying to take the gun away from his suicidal wife, and in the struggle, it went off, killing her.
It still is not an issue relevant to self defense and the OP's premise. Ward never claimed to be protecting himself with his own carry gun. The trigger pull weights of our carry guns have nothing to do with us trying to stop somebody else from committing suicide with their gun (assuming the premise could even remotely be believed).

Trigger pull weights are an issue when there are claims of the gun going off unintentionally. Unintentional discharges are not generally what occurs in self defense shootings when the dishcharges are intentional.
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Old October 1, 2011, 01:40 PM   #11
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The general point is that jury do pay attention to gun issues - I suppose - if they are relevant.
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Old October 1, 2011, 02:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
"hey, so what" or "the type of gun doesn't matter in a shooting incident".
There was no issue of a justifiable shooting in this incident.

It was either an accident or murder.

It has no relevance to a justifiable shooting.
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Old October 1, 2011, 04:47 PM   #13
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I'd say the general point in this particular case is that the jury got it right and didn't allow red herrings to affect its decision. Occasionally juries make correct decisions too.
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Old October 1, 2011, 10:31 PM   #14
MLeake
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The funny thing is, I'm normally on the side that feels it's a bad idea to have a very sensitive trigger on a defense gun, because it makes accidental discharges that much easier to do under stress.

But there have been a few TFL members who've said, "But that longer, heavier pull could make it hard to make a case for accidental discharge, as opposed to homicide."

To which those on my side responded, "Well, yes, if you are actually guilty of homicide, that longer and heavier pull could be a bad thing."

And this case does seem to have borne that out.

Since I don't think most of us plan to try to cover up a homicide (by which I mean a murder, as opposed to justifiable self-defense), I am not too worried about the results of this case, either.
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Old October 2, 2011, 10:18 AM   #15
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This is quite a different kettle of fish from the usual fears of being "crucified by the prosecutor" over one's choice of handgun/ammunition. In this particular case, Ward's choice of handgun was not used to attack his character (as was done in the Fish case), but rather to prove that the physical evidence of the case did not coroborate his story well. In an actual self-defense case, the weight of the trigger has very little bearing because, by the defendant's own admission, pulling the trigger was intentional. Ward's defense was not that he acted in self-defense, but rather that the shooting was a tragic accident, a defense which was not borne out by the physical evidence including the gun.
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Old October 2, 2011, 12:14 PM   #16
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For the S&W ignorant among us - is the model a DAO type?
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Old October 2, 2011, 12:44 PM   #17
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbert
For the S&W ignorant among us - is the model a DAO type?
It was a revolver. DA/SA or DAO, it can only be fired in DA mode unless it's a model that allows for manually cocking the hammer -- in which event they would not have been discussing a 12-pound trigger.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; October 3, 2011 at 11:40 AM. Reason: typo
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Old October 2, 2011, 12:48 PM   #18
Webleymkv
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For the S&W ignorant among us - is the model a DAO type?
We don't know. I have not seen any information regarding exactly which model gun that Ward shot his wife with. S&W makes scandium-frame guns with both DAO and DA/SA lockwork.
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Old October 2, 2011, 01:21 PM   #19
MLeake
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I thought I'd seen one article that said a 642, which would be a DAO type... but I'll have to check later.

Edit: Found an article with picture. It's a hammerless, but a Scandium or Titanium - so not a 642 or 442. One of the 3 series hammerless, so yes, DAO. 12lb trigger pull was mentioned.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...ell-diane-ward
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Old October 2, 2011, 01:24 PM   #20
Carry_24/7
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What JerryM said....
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Old October 2, 2011, 01:34 PM   #21
Webleymkv
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Quote:
Edit: Found an article with picture. It's a hammerless, but a Scandium or Titanium - so not a 642 or 442. One of the 3 series hammerless, so yes, DAO. 12lb trigger pull was mentioned.
Thanks for finding that for us. The gun in the picture appears to be a Model 340.

EDIT: after looking at S&W's website, the gun in the photo appears to be a Model 340PD. This is the only DAO scandium-frame revolver offered by S&W with a fiberoptic front sight.
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Last edited by Webleymkv; October 2, 2011 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Additional information
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Old October 2, 2011, 04:37 PM   #22
ClydeFrog
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Remarks from the "OP"...

I think my intended remarks & points were a bit off track here;
I DID NOT mean or claim that Bob Ward was firing the S&W revolver in self defense or that he was claiming it was a justified use of force as the state of Florida law is written: www.myfloridalegal.com www.mylicensesite.com .

My main point was that some jurys or jury members MAY look at firearms, ammunition, holsters-gear, etc when involved in a deliberation or when they render a verdict in a civil/court trial.
The 18" distance seemed a valid point too. That factor & the gunshot wound being almost directly between the victim's eyes showed how it looked more like a homicide than a suicide.

I'd disagree with a few TFL members too that say you(as a CC license holder or armed citizen) wouldn't need to worry about criminal intent or having a homicide charge after a lethal force incident.
Your statements & actions may allow you to avoid a criminal charge or be able to avoid civil/wrongful death claims BUT you must be able to explain/justify those actions to a LE investigator, prosecutor or even a jury of your "peers".
Some or all of whom may know next to 0 about guns & ammunition too.

ClydeFrog

Last edited by ClydeFrog; October 2, 2011 at 04:43 PM.
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Old October 2, 2011, 04:48 PM   #23
ClydeFrog
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In the words of LAPD LT Columbo....

Just one more thing... ...

Thanks for the edits & details about the Smith & Wesson Sc revolver.
S&W changes the product line so often(mostly in the early 2000s) I honestly wasn't sure which model Ward used in the event.

CF
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Old October 3, 2011, 10:56 AM   #24
brickeyee
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Quote:
BUT you must be able to explain/justify those actions to a LE investigator, prosecutor or even a jury of your "peers".
The only time you must "explain/justify those actions" is in a court of law, and even them only in a civil case decided by a preponderance of the evidence.

In a criminal case the state MUST make its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The only reason the trigger pull became an issue was when the 'it was an accident' BS appeared in court.

I guess the jury was smart enough to realize it would be one hell of an accident to pull a 12 pound trigger.

There was no question of justification in the case.

It was either an accident or murder.
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Old October 3, 2011, 11:47 AM   #25
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickeyee
I guess the jury was smart enough to realize it would be one hell of an accident to pull a 12 pound trigger.

There was no question of justification in the case.
I think that sums it up. Thankfully I have never had to wrestle someone to prevent him or her from shooting him/herself, but I sort of think that, if I were in such a situation my primary goal would be to keep the muzzle pointing away from both me and the other person. I'll even hypothesize that this is probably instinctive. So, if you're wrestling with a woman, who is probably smaller and weaker than you, if the gun just happens to be pointing right between her eyes when it "accidentally" discharges, I would find that rather incredible (in the literal sense of the word).
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