Garde held for trial in death of wife

June 05, 1997


Staff Writer

A defense effort to reduce first-degree murder charges against Roland Louis Garde Jr. failed Wednesday during a preliminary hearing for the man, who is accused of shooting his wife on May 5 at their Garis Shop Road home.

Washington County Circuit Judge Ralph France found probable cause to hold him on all charges in the death of Suzanne Garde.

Roland Garde, 38, was ordered jailed without bond pending trial in Washington County Circuit Court.

"He was leaving her ... there was a struggle and the gun went off," said David Littrell, Roland Garde's defense attorney.


But Investigator Kenny Barnhart of the Washington County Sheriff's Department testified that two shots were fired from the pump-action shotgun, meaning the weapon had to be pumped to fire a second time.

The story that unfolded during Barnhart's testimony portrayed a man who was convinced his wife was having an affair with another man and had threatened to kill them if he found them.

Barnhart said he interviewed the victim's two brothers, Phillip and James Fox, and each said Roland Garde told them on the day of the shooting that their sister was cheating on him.

"Roland Garde also came into the Central Tractor Farm and Family Center where Suzanne worked that day at 4 p.m. and appeared to be upset," Barnhart said.

Co-workers told Barnhart that Roland Garde said he'd shoot "Scott" if he found him, referring to a former employee who knew Suzanne Garde.

Barnhart testified the autopsy revealed that the first shot hit Suzanne Garde in the chest from a distance of about five feet.

She then was shot in the back from a distance of three feet, Barnhart said.

"The back wound was the cause of death," Barnhart said, referring to the initial autopsy report. "It destroyed the major organs and she bled to death."

The 34-year-old mother of two was taken to Washington County Hospital shortly after the shooting, which occurred around 10:45 p.m. She was pronounced dead a few hours later.

After the shooting, Garde drove to a friend's house and then to the Maryland State Police barracks and turned himself in within 30 minutes.

The couple and their 10-year-old son lived in a trailer at 10024 Garis Shop Road. The trailer sits behind a white house occupied by the Suzanne Garde's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lowell Fox, and the victim's other child, a 16-year-old daughter.

Deputy Tom Routzahn was the first officer to arrive and he said he saw Suzanne Garde lying face down near a bush next to the trailer.

The weapon was discarded along Garis Shop Road but was recovered later.

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