CLEARFIELD – A Morrisdale woman will stand trial for allegedly killing her husband after her failed attempt to disguise his death as a suicide.
Kimberly S. Williams, 47, has been charged by Clearfield-based state police for the March 14 shooting death of her husband at their Morrisdale residence.
She has been charged with felony criminal homicide and aggravated assault (two counts) and misdemeanor simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Williams had all charges bound over to the Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas after a preliminary hearing Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Jerome Nevling.
According to testimony from Trooper Frederick W. Burns, state police investigators responded to the couple’s Elm Drive residence for a reported suicide.
Kimberly Williams’ husband, Ronald Williams Jr., was found deceased in his bed with a single gunshot wound to his right temple. He also had a .22-caliber pistol in his right hand.
Kimberly Williams told investigators she was in the bedroom at her dresser when she heard a gunshot. She claimed she turned around to find that her husband had shot himself in the head, Burns said.
The trooper said Kimberly Williams indicated her husband had suffered a stroke about six years prior, and was partially paralyzed but did have some function in his right arm and hand.
Later that evening, Burns said state police were contacted by the person overseeing the couple’s Special Needs Trust Fund, which is worth around $1 million.
He said the person had received an e-mail from Ronald Williams earlier in the day, stating “something wasn’t right” and directing him to request an autopsy if something happened.
“He also requested to change his will,” Burns testified. Later, Kimberly Williams called the person about the e-mail and allegedly said an autopsy wasn’t necessary since her husband’s death was a suicide.
The trooper said state police investigators interviewed Ronald Williams’ children, and learned his daughter had also received a message from her father.
“He told her that, ‘if something ever happens to me, contest the will,’” Burns testified.
Burns said he and Trooper David Patrick interviewed Kimberly Williams, who indicated she and her husband had been arguing that day.
“At one point, she said: ‘I didn’t kill him for the money,’” he said, adding the investigation revealed Kimberly Williams was having an extramarital affair with a man in Fayetteville, N.C.
He said when troopers spoke with her boyfriend, he indicated Kimberly Williams had referenced the trust fund, and implied that once her husband was gone, she could move to North Carolina.
Burns said Dr. Harry Kamerow conducted an autopsy March 15 and examined the gunshot wound. He found it “completely lacked” soot deposition and powder stippling.
Kamerow then requested for additional testing to be conducted in order to determine the distance soot and stippling would occur from the pistol.
Burns said the firearm was sent to the PSP Erie Regional Crime Laboratory, which determined it was held at least 48-72 inches away from Ronald Williams when the shooting occurred.
Because his arm measured 34.1 inches in length, the trooper said Kamerow concluded it was “physically impossible” for Ronald Williams to have shot himself.
Burns said Kamerow ruled that Ronald Williams died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head, and then changed his manner of death from unknown to homicide.
Burns said gunshot residue was detected on the palm of Kimberly Williams’ left hand and one particle on the sleeve of her dress; however, gunshot residue wasn’t found on either of Ronald Williams’ hands.
Kimberly Williams’ attorney, Steven Paul Trialonas of State College, argued it was likely the gunshot residue on her hand was because she either picked up the pistol after it was fired or because she was in close proximity.
Under cross-examination, Burns said Ronald Williams had been transported to a crematory in Tyrone before his death became suspicious in nature and an autopsy was requested.
He said swabs for the gunshot residue testing were taken eight to 10 hours after the shooting occurred. Trialonas suggested it was possible then that Ronald Williams’ hands had been cleaned prior to his swab.
In closing, Trialonas asked Nevling to dismiss all the charges against his client because investigators compromised evidence, and questions surrounded what happened after Ronald Williams’ body was transported from the residence.
First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo countered saying Kimberly Williams was the only one in the home with her husband, and laboratory testing determined the gun was fired from at least 48 inches away.
Dobo also called the district judge’s attention to the fact that there wasn’t any gunshot residue on Ronald Williams’ hands, but it was found on the hand of Kimberly Williams.
Nevling said he believed the commonwealth had met its burden, and bound all charges over to county court. Williams remains incarcerated at the Clearfield County Jail, and has been denied bail.