ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Four years after Bob Ward was found guilty of second-degree murder for killing his wife, Diane, he was back before a judge. This time, he is looking a little older, a little grayer, his tailored suits replaced with a blue jail jumpsuit. He made his return to court on Tuesday with a new trio of attorneys asking for a retrial, saying he had ineffective assistance of counsel.
"What we see is a systematic blatant assault by the state on Mr. Ward’s right to remain silent. It wasn’t just one isolated incident. It occurred throughout the trial. It occurred at every phase of the trial," said attorney Craig Gillen to the judge.
Ward's attorneys argued that in opening statements, while examining witness, in closing and in rebuttals, the state used things that Ward said before being read his Miranda Rights, all while he was waiting for his attorney and spoken out of context.
"The actual facts of what happened was Mr. Ward was responding to questions from Detective Allen about football and about his family. This is a clear attempt to illicit improperly from the officer that Mr. Ward did not talk about his wife. No objection, no motion for mistrial was made," said Gillen.
Ward’s new attorneys argued that the same thing happened with a conversation captured on police surveillance when he was on the phone with his brother-in-law, who asked how Diane was killed. Ward's new legal team said the prosecutors made him look guilty by saying that he told his brother-in-law he could not talk about it right then.
Ward’s lead attorney during the trial, Kirk Kirkconnell, has since passed away. The state brought in Kirkconnel’s co-counsel to testify that they did their best, and even when former Orange County Medical Examiner Dr. Garavaglia raised some eyebrows, Ward's attorneys did nothing.
"She looked as if what she was saying was incredible and not credible," said Attorney Michael Snure. Snure says his then client urged him to move on. "I didn’t think it was the right time to ask for a mistrial. I knew Mr. Ward didn’t want a delay of the case," said Snure.
The judge asked Ward's new legal team to put their closing arguments in writing and to have them to her in 30 days. The state has 15 days to respond and Ward's defense team will have 15 days after that to get their last arguments in to the judge. The judge's ruling likely won't come until sometime in mid December.