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Judge mulls bond for woman charged in husband's shooting death

December 22, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A Martinsburg, W.Va., woman accused of shooting her estranged husband in September could be released from Eastern Regional Jail and placed on home confinement as part of terms set during a bond hearing Friday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Maria Lynn Decicio, 35, of 210 Gussie Ave. is charged with murder in the first degree. She allegedly shot Richard Earl Amundson, 45, five times on Sept. 15, according to testimony given by police at her preliminary hearing in magistrate court.

In jail since the day of the shooting, Decicio started crying Friday when 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes agreed to set a $50,000 cash, surety or property bond and allow home confinement, pending approval by the circuit's probation office.

"It is not ... a case where I have great fears that the defendant would flee," Wilkes said.

The judge also concluded that Decicio had a "clean" criminal record and appeared to be attempting to avoid her estranged husband when she moved to Berkeley County from Casper, Wyo.

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Defense attorney B. Craig Manford said his client left her husband under "stealthy" circumstances because of a troubled marriage.

"Once the FPOs (Family Protective Orders) were in place, she got out of Dodge," Manford said in presenting arguments for setting a bond for Decicio.

The last FPO in place in Wyoming expired in July 2007. Manford said Amundson followed Decicio to Berkeley County.

Manford proposed his client could be confined to her father's home in Gerrardstown, in southern Berkeley County, and said her sister was helping her get employment.

Both family members attended the hearing, and the woman's sister cried during the proceeding.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely objected to setting a bond for the defendant, who she said lived in the area for a short time before the shooting.

She asked the judge to restrict the woman from discussing the case with her family, but Wilkes concluded that would be difficult, considering the confinement conditions. The judge did place heavy emphasis on the requirement that she get permission from the probation office before leaving the state.

When police arrived at Decicio's home on the day of the shooting, they found her sobbing and murmuring to herself as she rocked back and forth on an ottoman in the living room.

She was pointing a revolver to the left side of her head, police said. The hammer was cocked and she was staring straight ahead, police testified in her preliminary hearing.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of West Virginia determined during Amundson's autopsy that he had two bullet wounds in the back of his head, one in the right shoulder, another on the left side of his chest and one in his left lower back, Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. G.B. Swartwood testified.

Amundson was found face down on the basement floor of Decicio's home.

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