Wife Guilty in Murder of Husband, Attempted Murder of Daughter

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by a 60-year-old former English teacher, finding instead that she is guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her husband.

Mary C. Koontz was also convicted on five additional counts, including attempted first-degree murder and assault. Her lawyers had argued that Koontz suffered from mental illness for most of her life, and that it was this emotional instability, combined with the dissolution of her marriage, which led to the development of a dissociative state—a state in which Koontz fatally shot her husband of 20 years, Ronald G. Koontz.

The couple had been separated since November 2007, after Ronald Koontz obtained a court order to have his wife removed from their home and evaluated by mental health professionals. On June 19, 2009, however, Mary Koontz returned to her former home, where her daughter and estranged husband still lived. Seventeen-year-old Kelsey testified during the trial that she was asleep in her bedroom on June 19, 2009, when the incident occurred. After being awakened by the sound of gunshots, she looked up to see her mother in the doorway, holding a revolver. Kelsey rolled over, avoiding the gunshot that Mary Koontz fired. The teenager managed to shut and lock her bedroom door, then called police, who arrived to find the elder Koontzes, both covered in blood, wrestling to gain control of the gun. Police disarmed and arrested Mary Koontz; Ronald Koontz was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital.

“I certainly believe she was not criminally responsible for her actions,” said defense attorney Richard M. Karceski, stating that his client’s borderline personality disorder rendered her incapable of understanding her actions that fatal night.

Mary Koontz, who remained calm and motionless during her trial, displaying virtually no affect, will be sentenced on August 10th. It is likely that she will be sent to a state prison, rather than to a psychiatric facility. The prosecution did not seek the death penalty.

As Kelsey Koontz left the courtroom, she said that she was “relieved.”

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger, speaking to the press, said that the guilty verdicts were important for the well-being of the teenager, who “needs to live the rest of her life without having to look over her shoulder.”

 

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