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Woman's murder trial delayed

December 23, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The trial for a woman accused of shooting her estranged husband to death in September 2007 was rescheduled to evaluate the defendant's mental capacity, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely said Monday.

The trial for Maria L. Decicio-Smith had been scheduled to begin next month, but on Friday was delayed to accommodate psychological and psychiatric evaluations, which Games-Neely said could help determine if the Sept. 15, 2007, shooting of Richard E. Amundson happened while the defendant had a diminished or impaired mental capacity.

Decicio-Smith, 36, of Martinsburg, was indicted in May on one count of first-degree murder. Police allege she shot Amundson five times. He was found face down in the basement of the defendant's home at 210 Gussie Ave. with a rotisserie fork near his left hand, police had said.

Decicio-Smith was found sobbing and murmuring to herself in the living room. She was pointing a revolver, with the hammer cocked, to the side of her head and staring straight ahead, police have said.

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Amundson had two bullet wounds in the back of his head, one in the right shoulder, one on the left side of his chest and one in his left lower back, medical experts determined.

Presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes ruled in December 2007 that it appeared Decicio-Smith was attempting to avoid her estranged husband when she moved from Casper, Wyo., to Berkeley County, closer to where family members reside and allowed the defendant the opportunity to be on home confinement pending trial. Decicio-Smith has been on home confinement since January 2008.

B. Craig Manford, Decicio-Smith's attorney, has said in court that his client had left her husband under "stealthy" circumstances because of a troubled marriage and that family protective orders had been issued in Wyoming.

In August 2008, Decicio-Smith's trial was rescheduled for January 2009 after attorneys said more evidence testing was needed and two key witnesses had scheduling conflicts with the original September trial date.

An order setting the new trial date had not been filed with Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine's office as of Monday afternoon, and the assistant prosecuting attorney handling the case was out of the office Monday.

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