Widmyer to use insanity defense

June 15, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Bunker Hill man charged in the shooting death of his former wife and the wounding of her boyfriend will use an insanity defense in his trial, according to court records.

William Trampas Widmyer suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has a "diminished capacity" to appreciate wrongfulness of actions, his attorney, S. Andrew Arnold, said Tuesday.

Arnold said he was informed about Widmyer's condition on Tuesday by Wheeling, W.Va., psychologist Charles Hewitt.

Hewitt has been performaning an ongoing evaluation of Widmyer, part of which has been completed while Widmyer is being held in the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, according to Arnold.

A copy of Hewitt's report will be filed soon in Jefferson County Circuit Court, where Widmyer's trial is scheduled to start July 20, said Arnold.


The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's office has the opportunity to do its own examination of Widmyer, Arnold said.

Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson declined to comment Tuesday.

Widmyer's former wife, Tara Widmyer, 25, and Larry Miller, 32, of Charles Town, were shot Nov. 17 as they were watching television in her house at 107-B East Sixth Avenue in Ranson, police said.

When police arrived, they found Tara Widmyer dead in the living room and Miller crawling out the front door yelling for help. Miller was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of his wounds.

At the time, police said William Widmyer, 28, of Route 2, had difficulty coping with the fact that Tara Widmyer had started a new life. A criminal complaint filed against Widmyer in Jefferson County Magistrate Court alleged the shooting was a sad conclusion of an "obsession" Widmyer had with his ex-wife.

The search for Widmyer ended three days after the shooting when he turned himself in to police in Woodstock, Va. Police believe Widmyer may have stayed in a cabin in Morgan County for a short time and stolen two vehicles that were used to drive through the area after the shooting.

At one point, Widmyer bought a paper to read about the shootings, police said.

In a taped interview with Widmyer, Ranson Police Chief William Roper asked why he turned himself in to police.

"I read the paper and that pastor said I need help," Widmyer said in the interview. "And I thought 'Yeah, I need help.'''

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