Florida millionaire developer Bob Ward has been convicted of second-degree murder charges Saturday in the death of his wife – a verdict that his attorney said was the result of the Casey Anthony acquittal.
"Certainly what happened to Casey Anthony makes it more difficult for any defendant in, probably anywhere in the state of Florida, to get a fair trial, and that's a concern," Kirk Kirkconnell, Ward’s lawyer, told reporters after the verdict was read.
He added, "I think there's a widely held prejudice against a defendant based on the Casey Anthony case because people may have felt that was not the proper verdict."
Ward, 63, was charged with the point-blank shooting and murder of his wife. He could face life imprisonment when sentenced in November.
In September 2009, Diane Ward, 55, was found dead in the couple’s Isleworth, Fla., home. According to Ward’s defense team, Diane was suicidal and Ward tried to maneuver the gun from her hand when she either shot herself or the gun accidentally went off.
"I think the defense made a mistake by saying either accident or suicide,” Susan Filan, former prosecutor and defense attorney, told “Good Morning America” Sunday.
“If he was there in the room with her and he really didn't have anything to do with it, I think he would know which one, particularly if she was shot between the eyes, he would have seen her raise the gun to her head,” she stated.
Casey Anthony, whose acquittal was blamed for Ward’s “guilty” verdict, is currently serving her probation on a check fraud conviction in Orange County, Florida. She was found “not guilty” of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee on July 5, 2011.
Anthony has recently been ordered to repay over $217,000 in fines to four central Florida law enforcement agencies for the costs related to the investigation and disappearance of Caylee.
She is reportedly living in an undisclosed location to protect her well being from people angered over the “not guilty” verdict.