CLEARFIELD – A jury deliberated for two hours Wednesday afternoon before convicting a Morrisdale woman of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her husband.
Kimberly S. Williams, now 48, was 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 the victim had suffered a severe stroke six years prior, was partially paralyzed and fully dependent upon others to care for him.
Clearfield-based state police also 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 was found guilty Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person. She was found not guilty of first- and third-degree murder, as well as aggravated and simple assault.
The trial was prosecuted by Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers and First Assistant DA Leanne Nedza. Kimberly Williams was represented by defense attorney Steven Paul Trialonas of State College.
Jurors entered into their deliberations at 1:54 p.m. and court reconvened at 2:45 p.m. for a question. They requested the definition of involuntary manslaughter, then returned with their verdict at 3:54 p.m.
President Judge Fredric Ammerman ordered the Probation Department to conduct a pre-sentencing investigation, and for Kimberly Williams to be scheduled for sentencing within 60 days. Her bail was also set at $5,000.
“Obviously, we would have preferred a conviction of first- or third-degree murder,” Sayers said, adding “the conviction of involuntary manslaughter is still a win.
“But 12 jurors – after a six-day trial – didn’t believe it was an intentional killing with malice. That’s the process.” That process was also a learning experience for law enforcement and prosecutors.
“Initially, everyone thought it was suicide,” Sayers said, and the body was taken to the crematory in Altoona, then to the morgue in Clearfield before being sent to Huntingdon for an autopsy. “We take cases as we get them.”
In his closing arguments, Trialonas told jurors about a quotation tattooed on Ronald Williams’ forearm. “It said: ‘Live free or die.’ Ronald Williams didn’t live free.”
Instead, he described a 49-year-old man who had been immobilized by a stroke several years earlier, and who was mostly confined to a wheelchair or mechanical hospital bed.
He said emotionally, Ronald Williams’ mind was constantly bombarded with thoughts about and the fear of death and that ultimately, he “chose” to end his life.
Trialonas said after state troopers spent two hours on-scene March 14, 2019, “no one suspected anything other than suicide.” And the chief deputy coroner and responding paramedic agreed.
“For Kimberly Williams to stage this scene, it would require specialized knowledge of forensics, guns, etc., and for her to not only be a criminal mastermind, but [also] one heck of an actress,” he said.
“… If she’s really this cold, calculated murderer, why would she break her back to take such excellent care of Ronald Williams, if she just wanted him dead?”
“Ask yourself: ‘Why would he keep guns hot – ready to fire – every day? Do they [the commonwealth] think he used them as a paper weight?’ He liked this pistol so much because it was easy for him to handle.”
In addition, Trialonas argued the commonwealth’s case was “full of holes” because law enforcement never found anything suspicious other than an e-mail Ronald Williams sent his financial advisor asking to change his will.
“He was controlling,” Trialonas said, “and they [the Williams’] had this love-hate relationship. Maybe he was trying to control her fate, even after he was dead?”
Nedza argued that Kimberly Williams gave her husband extra medication, shot him and made it look like a suicide. “She wanted his body shipped out and cremated before anyone could figure it out.”
She said the murderous plot was motivated by Kimberly Williams’ selfish desire to solely inherit $1.1 million from her husband’s Special Needs Trust Fund and finally be with her boyfriend in North Carolina.
Nedza said Ronald Williams’ gunshot wound completely lacked soot deposition and gunpowder stippling and there was no gunshot residue found on his hands.
She also said there was no blood on the tip of the pistol, which “conveniently” stayed in Ronald Williams’ right hand and landed on his lap with his finger on its trigger.
“Yet, according to Kim, Ron fired the gun,” she argued. “How does that even happen? … I don’t think she’s a criminal genius but do think she gave a $1.1 million, Oscar-winning performance.”
Nedza gave Kimberly Williams credit for years of around-the-clock, dedicated care of her husband, but said she (Williams) thought she should get something for it, but knew she only would if he died.