By Brad Kellar
Ralph Ward took the stand Thursday during the sentencing phase of his son's capital murder trial and claimed Adam Kelly Ward no longer experiences the violent outbursts which were a hallmark of his youth.
While previous witnesses have testified Adam Ward, 24, has suffered from psychotic behavior and delusions, Ralph Ward said much of the defendant's violent tendencies had all but disappeared by the time he reached adolescence.
"They were pretty much over with by 12 or 13," Ward said. "A great deal of those were induced by allergies. He was diagnosed as having food and environmental allergies that were neurologically manifested. He basically grew out of the allergies; most of them, but not all of them."
Ward has been found guilty by a jury in the 354th District Court of capital murder in connection with the June 13, 2005 shooting death of Commerce Code Enforcement Officer Michael "Pee Wee" Walker.
The same jury will now decide whether Ward will receive life in prison or death by lethal injection as punishment.
Prosecutors have claimed Ward acted in cold blood when he chased Walker and shot him as many as nine times when he saw the victim taking photos of alleged code violations at Ward's home on Caddo Street.
Ward's defense attorneys have attempted to prove Ward was suffering from a psychotic disorder and paranoid delusions at the time of the shooting, and have claimed the defendant's actions were the result of years of indoctrination by Ralph Ward, who had a history of confrontations with government officials.
Judge Richard A. Beacom told the jury at the close of testimony Thursday there would be one more day of witnesses today and that the panel could receive the case to begin deliberations by early next week.
Ralph Ward was on the witness stand much of the day Thursday, as he responded to defense allegations his son was part of an ongoing war with the City of Commerce.
Ralph Ward admitted to clashes with officials from the Commerce Independent School District over methods being used to teach his son. The dispute resulted in Ward threatening to file a $28 million lawsuit against the district over the implementation of a program to address his son's alleged dyslexia. Ward said he occasionally would appear at the school unannounced, in order to "catch them in the act" of not using the program.
"What we were interested in was Adam's education and it had been negatively impacted," Ward said, claiming that later actions by the district to try and return Ward to another system were retaliatory in nature.
He agreed that counseling was important for his son when he was younger, but questioned whether it would be helpful as the child grew older and more intelligent.
"Adam could manipulate the system," he said.
Ward, who possesses a doctorate degree in education and manufacturing technology, said he took it upon himself to help teach his son as he grew older, as the defendant still suffered from dyslexia -- which Ward said he diagnosed -- while attending Paris Junior College.
"If he was shown, if he was told verbally how to do it, if he had a chance to do it himself, then it was there," Ward said.
Ward said he also diagnosed his son with bi-polar disorder early in life and brought it to the attention of Commerce school officials, even though several other doctors disagreed with the assessment.
"I supplied the school district with volumes of information," Ward said.
Ward said he did have disagreements with the City of Commerce code enforcement office over citations which were being written for items being stored in front of their house on Caddo Street, while other nearby homes which he believed were in far worse shape were never ticketed.
"It was one of those situations where we were being singled out by the city and kind of picked on," Ward said.
Ward also took credit for ridding his neighborhood of at least one "drug house," at which he said exotic dancers lived and cars would arrive and leave at all hours of the night. Ward said he often called in complaints of illegally parked vehicles at the residence to have the police arrive, although he said the officers would never take action.
Ward said the his son adopted his attitude toward illegal drug usage.
"He was raised in a philosophy to hate drug dealers and junkies," Ward said. "That's because of the disruption of the neighborhood."
Ward also testified Adam Ward developed a distrust of black males, due the alleged mistreatment his son received while in school.
"He had black male aides since the fifth grade and some of those used more force than they should have," he said. "They were supposed to be academic aides, but they turned out to be stiff-armed disciplinarians."
Ward testified Adam Ward also grew fearful of local police officers, whom he also believed were targeting his son.
"I would myself see Commerce Police Department patrol cars following him," Ward said.
And even though Adam Ward outgrew his violent outbursts, his father said the defendant could still become "quite agitated" if someone became verbal with him.
"If it was anything more than that, he felt threatened ... especially if it was some authority figure, especially if it was some abusive authority," Ward said.
At one point, Ward said he did believe there was a chance that citations from the Commerce code enforcement office could have been tied into the Commerce city council's connections with the school district and the school district's ire over the threatened law suit.
"I'm just saying I think it was a possibility," Ward said.
Posted by Brad Kellar
By Brad Kellar
- Local News
- Forecast calls for winter storm through weekend
- Christmas events still scheduled for downtown
- Multiple events waiting on weather conditions
- Man pleads guilty to 2010 kidnapping case
Man pleads guilty, sentenced in abandoned child case
A local man has been sentenced and fined after admitting to leaving a child alone in a vehicle.
- Christmas events depending on forecast
Filling the float for FISH
Weather permitting, big crowds are expected to line the streets of downtown Greenville Friday night, to watch the annual Downtown Christmas Parade
- Salvation Army looking to open overnight shelter
- Bond hearings set in money laundering case
- No report filed in Saturday 'shots fired' incident
- More Local News Headlines