CLEARFIELD- The mental health records of the victim of an alleged murder that took place in 2019 in Morrisdale will remain private.
After his death on March 14, 2019 at their home, Kimberly Sue Williams, now 48, told police that her husband, Ronald Williams Jr. had shot himself in the head while her back was turned to him.
Further investigation revealed that Ronald Williams Jr., who had suffered a stroke six years prior and was bedridden, was saying he wanted to change his will, and a relative told police he commented that he thought his wife was trying to kill him.
Steven P. Trialonas, attorney for Williams, filed a motion to have the records for two, separate involuntary mental health commitments of her husband to be released for evidence in her trial, which is scheduled to start on June 15.
In a hearing regarding the case Thursday, argument was held about that request with attorneys of both Community Connections of Clearfield/Jefferson Counties and Penn Highland DuBois and Clearfield asking Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to reconsider his motion ordering them to release the information.
Paul Lalley, attorney for Community Connections, explained that they are not obligated to disclose confidential information if what is in the records does not apply to the criminal case.
Daniel Margonari, attorney for Penn Highlands, added that mental health records are more protected by privacy laws than the usual health records. He agreed that the records in question are not discoverable for this case.
Trialonas cited case law from a previous case where mental health records regarding thoughts of suicide were released.
He pointed out that if either of these commitments involved a gun, this information is very relevant to the case. He asked to receive information only on any suicidal thoughts or actions involving a firearm and not the complete records.
He then suggested that Ammerman review the records and rule to release any relevant information.
After listening to these arguments, Ammerman chose to consider the issue and make a ruling later.
On Friday, information released by court administration showed that Ammerman granted the two organizations’ motions for reconsideration of his order and vacated his previous order requiring them to release the mental health records.
In the paperwork, Ammerman also states that the court is prohibited from conducting an ‘in camera review of Williams’ mental health records” as suggested by Trialonas.
A motion by the Commonwealth to amend the charge of criminal homicide in this case was granted during Thursday’s hearing.
District Attorney Ryan Sayers stated that Williams is now charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, in addition to the previous charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Sayers also asked for information from the defense regarding their expert witness who is expected to testify at the seven-day trial.
Trialonas explained that he has repeatedly asked the witness for a written report and has not yet received it.
Ammerman granted a motion by Sayers asking for the report, and giving the defense a deadline of June 7 at 2:30 p.m. to supply it.