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Man convicted of assaulting wife

Case continued on charge of attempting to hire inmate to kill her

August 16, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Keiser
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A Hagerstown man charged with trying to hire a man to kill his wife had that case continued Monday in Washington County Circuit Court, but a jury convicted him in a separate case of assaulting the woman in 2009.

James Eugene Keiser Jr., 45, of 1044 Fairview Road, was convicted Monday of second-degree assault against Shirley Keiser. Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced Keiser to five years in prison, and suspended all but 18 months.

"You love your wife. You didn't want your marriage to end. You have a funny way of showing it," Long said.

Shirley Keiser, who has since divorced James Keiser, testified they had gone to marriage counseling Dec. 15, 2009, but argued after returning home. At about 1 a.m. Dec. 16, he went up to the bedroom, she testified.

He had been drinking, and he grabbed her and shoved her, she testified.

"I was terrified," she testified.

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She called police, left the house with her children and filed a criminal complaint later that day, she testified.

Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Whittington testified he went to the house to serve a peace order on James Keiser on the evening of Dec. 16.

"No piece of paper is going to stop me from getting" her, Keiser said, according to Whittington's testimony. Asked if he had any firearms, Keiser asked if a nail gun was a firearm, Whittington testified.

When told it was not, Keiser said, "Good, then I can put a nail in (her) head," Whittington testified.

"We had a discussion which may have turned into a disagreement ... It was not a shouting match," James Keiser testified. He went into the basement and drank, but he was not intoxicated when he went up to the bedroom, Keiser testified.

Keiser testified he touched his wife's shoulders, but denied grabbing or shoving her. He testified he bought half a gallon of vodka later that day and was passed out when Whittington arrived and could not clearly remember any statements he made to Whittington.

"You are not here because of anything Mr. Keiser said when he was drunk," Assistant Public Defender Carl F. Creeden told the jury.

Shirley Keiser was unhurt in the incident and James Keiser had no intent to offend or harm her, Creeden said.

It was after his arrest for the assault that police allege Keiser tried to hire another inmate at the Washington County Detention Center to kill his wife, according to allegations in the application for statement of charges filed by the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Around Christmas, Keiser asked the inmate if he would be interested in making $15,000, the application said.

"Who do I have to kill?" the inmate jokingly asked Keiser, the application said.

"My wife," Keiser responded, the application alleges.

Police allege Keiser gave the inmate information about where his wife lived and worked and what she drove, along with the code to override the alarm system at her home, the application said.

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