Closings start in Fla. millionaire murder trial

September 22, 2011 - 4:15 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A prosecutor trying a millionaire Florida developer on a charge of fatally shooting his wife used the man's own words against him during closing arguments Thursday at his trial.

Prosecutor Robin Wilkinson played a 911 recording in which developer Bob Ward tells a dispatcher five times "I just shot my wife."

"Bob Ward in his very own words," Wilkinson said. "Do we really think he doesn't know what he is saying when he says the words, 'I just shot my wife?'"

Ward is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Diane, in September 2009. She was killed 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.

Defense attorneys say Ward's wife was suicidal and he was trying to stop her from killing herself. But Wilkinson discounted that claim during her closing arguments, noting that Ward had different explanations for what happened. It went from "I just shot my wife" to "it's a tragic accident" to "Diane killed herself," she said.

The Wards were under tremendous stress from the bankruptcy of his company and a lawsuit over his business practices. A broken wine glass, a wine stain on the patio and a similar stain on Ward's shirt indicated they had been fighting before Diane Ward died, the prosecutor said.

Wilkinson said that prosecutors weren't required to show a motive or that Ward intended to kill his wife.

Ward's attorneys didn't call him to the stand during the testimony part of the trial. His defense attorneys were expected to make their closing arguments later in the day.