The Argument

On Monday Kathy Jo Ward, 36, showed up at her parents home, and told them she had killed her husband, 43 year old John W. Ward.

Police have said the couple had argued hours before he was killed. The morning after the argument, Ward is alleged to have gone to her car and gotten a gun, returned inside and shot him. John Ward died of a single gunshot to the head. He was reported to have been asleep at the time that he was shot.

The sheriff initially said they did not have a motive. The defense attorney told media there was a reason. ”Knowing his history and knowing her history, it certainly doesn’t make yesterday a shocking (incident).” The defense attorney also indicated that Mr. Ward had a lengthy criminal record ”both documented and undocumented.”

Records released at a court hearing indicate that Kathy Jo Ward has confessed while she was being interviewed on videotape.

Other records give some insight into what the argument was allegedly about. According to documents filed by prosecutors, during the argument John Ward allegedly admitted to drug use and infidelity. And he allegedly told her she needed to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Kathy Jo Ward has been charged with murder.                           

A shooting is shocking

About midway down the page on this article is an opinion piece about the shooting. And the writer does make some good points.

I have not read where any abuse occurred, but from the defense’s words I suspect it might be possible. But she went to her car to get the gun. Which means she had an opportunity to escape. That will make a self defense scenario difficult if not impossible.

Attempts have been made to use ‘battered women’s syndrome’ for defense, but success with that has been very limited, though if the abuse was well documented it might help in the mitigation phase for sentencing.

I do believe that ‘battered women’s syndrome’ exists. And I do believe that after a while there is a danger that at some point an abused person will want to get make it stop. And yes, they may want to get some revenge.  

Unable to leave due to fear, emotional ties or other reasons the abuse victim may come to feel there is only one way to make it end. And that is if one of them is dead. Because the abuse can make a person feel so powerless, and gives the feeling that the abuser has all the power, then ending it may mean the only way to do that is to catch them asleep and defenseless.

But in using the syndrome as a defense, that big question always looms…… Why didn’t they just leave? And the answer to that question is one that juries often have difficulty understanding.



  1. Becky J said,

    December 24, 2006 at 9:19 am

    That is always the question, “why didnt they leave” its such a catch 22 situation because if the victim is getting ready to leave they know that they could end up dead, so i guess in a way they feel its the safest way, who knows, but it does bring up the point that education is the key here, if we could splash the “how to” or “ur not alone” all over the media and bill boards etc, maybe these victims wouldnt feel that that is there only way out. At this point in the world its a more a matter of prevention. We need to teach people the signs to look for, how to deal with it once you find it, and lastly to realize that domestic violence is EVERYONES business, its not a silent family matter, get involved and u could be saving someones life!!!

  2. John Poling said,

    September 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    One thing that you did not point out in your summary of the Kathy Jo Ward case is the fact that her husband was a bully and an abuser. He had told her that if they divorced, he was going to take her pension, house, and leave her destitute. This was an on-going abusive situation. I do not know how intelligent Ms. Ward is, but she evidently believed him. Her sentence was also based on the fact that the judge was biased in this case. She got the maximum. The judge was apparently catering to her husbands family who were in attendance. Also, the judge refused to reduce her sentence because she had made an appeal, which he considered to be going around his back. Recently, the judge resigned because of a current investigation into this case.

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