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Woman charged in husband's murder to remain in jail until trial

February 28, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A woman accused of shooting her estranged husband to death in September 2007 is expected to remain in jail until her trial, which was scheduled for June 28 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

In a status hearing Monday, Wilkes said he would not go along with a bail agreement for Maria Decicio-Smith, 38, who was indicted in May 2008 on one count of first degree-murder.

Police allege she shot Richard E. Amundson five times, according to court records. He was found facedown in the basement of Decicio-Smith’s home at 210 Gussie Ave. with a rotisserie fork near his left hand, police have said.

Smith’s trial was delayed in October 2010 after her competency was questioned when she failed to appear for a court hearing. Attorneys said she went to City Hospital for an unspecified medical situation.

Last fall, Wilkes revoked a bail agreement that had been in place for Decicio-Smith and remanded her to William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston, W.Va., for treatment.

Wilkes noted Monday that a report from the hospital indicated Decicio-Smith is competent to stand trial.

In May 2010, Decicio-Smith was deemed competent to stand trial after she previously received treatment at Sharpe Hospital. Before that, Decicio-Smith was found at least temporarily incompetent by state experts. Decicio-Smith was initially found to have serious depression, an anxiety condition and other factors that inhibited her from assisting her attorney during her trial, officials have said.

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 family members, and allowed her the opportunity to be on home confinement pending trial.

Decicio-Smith told police that she had been sexually assaulted by her estranged husband and another man for several days before killing Amundson, according to a forensics laboratory report filed last month with Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine’s office.

Defense attorney B. Craig Manford has said that a battered spouse syndrome defense could be part of his presentation and noted that his client obtained two restraining orders against Amundson in Wyoming.

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