No verdict in Day 1 of Fla. millionaire's trial

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2011 10:39 PM
No verdict in Day 1 of Fla. millionaire's trial

The jury did not reach a verdict during Day 1 of deliberations in the murder trial of a Florida real estate developer.

They deliberated more than 10 hours Friday and asked for testimony from two DNA witnesses to be read back to them before the judge in the case decided to break for the day just before 10 p.m.

Ward is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife, Diane, in September 2009.

Defense attorneys contend that Ward's wife was suicidal and he was trying to stop her from killing herself. The slaying happened days before she was to give a deposition in a lawsuit alleging that he blew millions of dollars on big houses and expensive cars while his business failed.

Ward did not take the stand in his defense.

Jurors are scheduled to return to the Orlando courthouse Saturday.

Circuit Judge Jenifer Davis let them return to their homes for the evening, but instructed them not to discuss the case with anyone and told them to avoid traditional and social media outlets.

"You may not have any discussions about people, places or anyone involved in this case," Davis said.

Early in the evening, jurors asked to see a yardstick that defense attorneys used to demonstrate the distance between Ward and his wife at the time of the shooting. Davis refused to send it to the jury room out of concern jurors would conduct their own demonstrations without the scrutiny of prosecutors and defense attorneys. The judge said jurors could view it in the courtroom.

The jurors also asked to have the transcripts of both the prosecution and defense's DNA experts. That request was allowed and took up a little more than an hour as a court reporter read the testimony aloud.

Both experts testified about the physical evidence found on revolver that killed Ward's wife. Prosecutors say that Ward was about 18 inches away from her when the gun was fired into her face.