CLEARFIELD – Several witnesses – including the lead investigator, a Morrisdale murder suspect’s lover and a defense pathology expert, testified during day five of trial for Kimberly S. Williams.
Williams, now 48, is accused of shooting and killing her husband, Ronald Williams Jr., the afternoon of March 14, 2019 at the couple’s Elm Drive home, then staging it to appear as a suicide.
Further investigation revealed that the victim had suffered a severe stroke six years prior, was partially paralyzed and fully dependent upon others to care for him.
Additionally, Clearfield-based state police troopers learned that he’d asked to change his will, because he felt something wasn’t right and that his wife was planning to kill him.
Kimberly Williams is charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in connection with her husband’s death.
She’s also charged with felony aggravated assault (two counts) as well as misdemeanor simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Trooper Frederick Burns, the lead investigator, testified that he arrived at the Williams residence at 3:49 p.m. March 14, 2019, and observed Ronald Williams deceased in his mechanical, hospital bed with a gunshot wound near his right temple.
He said Kimberly Williams called 911 at 3:12 p.m. and reported that her husband had shot himself and troopers had no reason to question that report until later that evening.
At 6:55 p.m., he said James Wilkinson, the couple’s financial advisor in Pittsburgh, contacted investigators and faxed them a concerning e-mail he’d received from Ronald Williams earlier that afternoon.
In the e-mail, Ronald Williams expressed “something wasn’t right,” and directed Wilkinson to have an autopsy done if anything happened to him. He also asked to change his will.
Burns said state police investigators converged, and then he and Trooper David Patrick responded back to the Williams residence. “She said she wasn’t surprised to see us, or expected us.”
He said Kimberly Williams signed a form of non-arrest, and freely went to the barracks. He also spoke with Terry Carter, her lover, and found he had a motel room in Kylertown.
Burns said investigators obtained surveillance footage, showing Carter was there between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and ruled him out as a possible suspect or co-conspirator.
Carter, who is from Fayetteville, N.C., also testified against Kimberly Williams, saying they rekindled their romantic relationship in summer of 2018, and they often met at area motels and in the Williams home.
He said Kimberly Williams put his contact information in her cellular phone under her sister’s name to conceal their extramarital affair from her husband and keep their messages private.
Carter confirmed a message he received from Kimberly Williams on the night of Jan. 8, 2019, the same day Ronald Williams met with his attorney and financial advisor to sign his will.
It stated: “I can’t get the [expletive] to sleep,” and that she’d given him Benadryl, melatonin and muscle relaxers. “WTF …. He should be dead, but he’s not even asleep.”
On March 13, 2019, the day before the alleged murder, Carter received messages from Kimberly Williams in which she admitted to having pointed a gun at Ronald Williams.
He said he didn’t think much of it and thought Kimberly Williams did it to get her husband to back down. He said it was also common for Ronald Williams to wave guns around to control and manipulate his wife.
He said Kimberly Williams told him she couldn’t believe she was “pushed that far,” and that clearly decisions needed to be made about having her husband put into a care home.
Cater testified that he and Kimberly Williams discussed a future together, and confirmed a message from Feb. 27, 2019, in which she shared plans to relocate to North Carolina once she got the money.
Though the commonwealth hasn’t rested its case, both sides agreed Monday morning to permit testimony out of order from defense forensic pathology expert, Dr. Gregory McDonald.
McDonald currently serves as Dean of the School of Health Sciences and is a professor of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Pathology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
McDonald is also the chief deputy coroner of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and has conducted over 8,000 autopsies with thousands of those being gunshot wound cases.
He examined the Ronald Williams case file on behalf of the defense, such as crime scene and autopsy photographs, autopsy and gunshot residue reports, and so forth, and then rendered a conclusion.
McDonald testified that in all his gunshot wound case studies, he’s “never seen” a distant gunshot wound with irregular abrasions/lacerations such as this one with a pinkish discoloration.
He believed it was a close contact wound because carbon monoxide from the discharged firearm would have entered and surrounded the wound, causing the discoloration.
Under cross-examination, McDonald was confronted with the findings of commonwealth pathology expert, Dr. Harry Kamerow, and admitted that he neither received, nor examined the ballistic testing results ordered by Kamerow.
Last week, Kamerow told jurors that upon examination of the gunshot wound, he discovered it “completely lacked” soot deposition and gunpowder stippling.
Because it didn’t appear to be a contact or even close contact wound, he had the surrounding skin and subcutaneous tissue processed for microscopy. Gunpowder pigment wasn’t seen on the microscopy.
This caused Kamerow to request that state police investigators conduct ballistic testing to determine the distance soot and stippling would occur from the pistol.
He said testing determined the pistol would have been held at least 48 – 72 inches away from Ronald Williams when the shooting occurred.
Because the victim’s arm measured 34.1 inches in length, Kamerow concluded it was “physically impossible” for Ronald Williams to have shot himself as the scene suggested.
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.
McDonald, however, stood by his original conclusion, and said the results of the state police’s ballistic testing wouldn’t have influenced or changed it, if that information had been part of the case file.
Trooper Randy Powell, Troop C criminal investigation assessment officer, said he assisted Trooper Steve Johnson with examination of pillows and a comforter from Ronald Williams’ bed.
He said they closely went over these bedding items June 25, 2019 to look for bullet holes, but none were found. He also assisted with a portion of the interview with Kimberly Williams on March 15, 2019.
Johnson said Kimberly Williams mentioned she had a compartment in her purse specifically for a handgun, but removed her firearm and secured it at home before she was brought to the barracks.
The trial is being prosecuted by District Attorney Ryan Sayers and First Assistant DA Leanne Nedza; Kimberly Williams is being represented by defense attorney Steven Paul Trialonas.
It will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom No. 1 at the Clearfield County Courthouse before President Judge Fredric Ammerman, and is scheduled through Wednesday but may extend into Thursday.