Millionaire convicted of killing wife gets 30-year sentence

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 19, 2011 5:18 AM
Millionaire convicted of killing wife gets 30-year sentence

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - A millionaire convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of his wife in their Isleworth, Florida, mansion in 2009 was sentenced on Friday to 30 years in prison.

At the September trial of Bob Ward, 63, jurors heard a 911 call in which he told dispatchers that he had shot his wife, Diane. His lawyers said that Diane Ward was killed when the couple struggled over a gun and it accidentally discharged. His lawyers also said that Diane Ward might have been suicidal.

State experts calculated that Diane Ward was shot in the face from a distance of 18 inches, and testified that it would have been impossible for her to do that. Prosecutors said that she had not seemed suicidal in conversations that day with friends and family, and had just opened a Facebook account.

Bob Ward was reported to have been under stress at the time of the shooting from a business bankruptcy and home foreclosure. The year before the shooting, Ward filed for bankruptcy protection for his real estate development company and stopped making $17,000-monthly mortgage payments on his home, according to news reports at the time of the shooting. The seven-bedroom estate was listed for sale at the time for more than $5 million.

Isleworth, where the couple lived, is a gated subdivision near Orlando known for a car accident involving Tiger Woods, also in 2009. Woods' accident triggered the revelation of several extramarital affairs and led to his divorce.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune)