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Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Soldier’s mental state
on trial in pregnant
wife's slaying

By Gregg K. Kakesako


German-born Bianca Ward was nearly nine months pregnant with her second child when she was stabbed 15 times by her estranged husband in a fit of rage after he lost custody of the couple's first child last August.

Army prosecutors maintain that Staff Sgt. Timothy Ward, a 13-year Army veteran, should be found guilty of premeditated murder and be given the maximum sentence of life without parole at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

But Ward's defense attorney yesterday argued that Ward's action was not premeditated.

Capt. Peter Graff, Ward's attorney, told a court-martial panel of three officers and three enlisted soldiers that "he (Ward) acted in the heat of passion. He acted out of emotion."

Graff said Ward's actions came at the climax of a bitter two-year custody battle for Damian, who was nearly 2 at the time of the Aug. 26 incident, and that Ward was a "man acting under emotional duress."

Graff said that during what is expected to be a weeklong court-martial at Schofield Barracks, witnesses will testify that Ward is "an outstanding soldier in his battalion ... a top notch NCO (noncommissioned officer) ... a well-respected soldier."

But Capt. John Dever, prosecuting attorney, said Ward, 34, as early as last February told a fellow soldier that he wanted to kill his wife because she took their son to Germany to visit his grandparents without his permission.

Ward also later that year told an Army mental health specialist that he was frustrated with his long custody battle with his wife and wanted to strangle her.

After hitting his wife on her head repeatedly with a blunt instrument and stabbing her numerous times following an argument in the couple's second-floor Helemano Military Reservation home, Ward tried to hide his bloody clothing in a washing machine and in the car of a friend, Dever said.

Dever said Ward told a close friend -- Staff Sgt. Benjamin Davis -- he was "in trouble" and that there was blood all over the couple's home and he panicked and left the area.

Dever said Ward told military criminal investigators during an interrogation that he had "the perfect motive" after losing custody and that his wife was planning to return home to Germany with Damian.

Nearly three dozen witness, including Bianca Ward's parents and Ward's mother and sister, are expected to testify.

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