ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The ex-girlfriend of central Florida developer Bob Ward testified Monday that Ward was complaining about his wife shortly before her fatal shooting.
Ward is accused of fatally shooting his wife, Diane Ward, 55, in September 2009, days before she was to give a deposition in a lawsuit alleging that he blew millions of dollars on big houses and expensive cars while his business failed.
Ward contends that his wife was suicidal and a gun went off when he was trying to take it away from his wife.
During the third day of witness testimony in Ward's second-degree murder trial, Dianne Callahan was scheduled to testify for the prosecution. The defense called the testimony irrelevant and prejudicial. The jury left the courtroom while attorneys debated.
According to the Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/p9vWVm ), prosecutor Robin Wilkinson argued that Callahan's testimony shows the Wards' marriage had problems and he expressed them to his former girlfriend over drinks. Judge Jenifer Davis decided to allow most of the testimony.
While the jury was out of the courtroom, Callahan said she and Ward, 63, dated from 1978-82. He contacted her in early 2009 and asked to have lunch. They met for lunch at an Atlanta restaurant.
"He said that his wife spent too much money," Callahan said.
She also said he was angry with his wife for being too busy to pick him up at Orlando International Airport.
At the start of the trial last week, Ward's lawyer said Ward was trying to take the gun away. Toxicology reports showed that Diane Ward had antidepressants and alcohol in her body before she was killed.
During the 911 call minutes after the shooting, Ward told a dispatcher that he shot his wife. When the dispatcher asked if he had done it on purpose or on accident, he said it was an accident.
Prosecutors said it would have been difficult for Diane Ward to have shot herself, citing gunshot testing that shows the bullet was fired from 18 inches away.
Bob Ward's company, Land Resource, filed for bankruptcy almost a year before his wife died. He was being sued by an insurance company that accused him of taking more than $20 million from the sale of lots in subdivisions he was building in Tennessee in 2007. The insurance company, which had issued bonds for the subdivisions, said Ward should have used the money to improve the subdivisions, but instead paid off debts and went on a spending spree.
The lawsuit says the Wards used the money to buy their 8,800-square-foot mansion in Isleworth, the same neighborhood where Tiger Woods had his notorious SUV crash. The suit says the couple also paid off two loans totaling nearly $2.5 million for two houses in Georgia, bought a house on the Georgia coast for $750,000 and purchased several vehicles, including a $140,000 Mercedes-Benz sedan. The lawsuit was dismissed last month because of a lack of action by either side.
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