Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

Mental Illness?

On Thursday, April 22, 2004, before the trial of Ward Weaver III could get underway, his new attorneys presented Clackamas County Judge Robert Herndon with evidence that their client suffered from severe depression and therefore was unable to assist in his own defense. While waiting for trial, Weaver had sliced his daughter's name onto his forearm with a sharp instrument, produced self-inflicted lacerations to his chest, and had engaged in several incidents in which he had deliberately and repeatedly battered his head against his cell wall. When psychiatrists had asked him why he was in jail, he responded that he believed it was for spanking his daughter.

Ward Weaver III
Ward Weaver III

Psychiatrists that had been called by both the prosecution and the defense told Judge Herndon that Weaver was experiencing depression and stated that his mental state was impaired. A defense psychiatrist, one of the so-called "hired guns," told the judge that he had diagnosed Weaver with "narcissistic personality disorder" and "major depression." But a prosecution psychiatrist said that he believed Weaver was feigning some of the symptoms. Defense psychiatrists also testified that Weaver had told them he was hearing voices, and claimed that he had tried to kill himself. They testified that he had undergone "rapid mental deterioration" after he had been segregated from the general jail population and placed in solitary confinement.

Herndon, noting that Weaver had been taking strong doses of anti-depressant medication since being jailed in 2002, accepted the defense arguments and ruled that Weaver was suffering from severe depression and ordered him sent to the state mental hospital in Salem for further evaluation and possible treatment.

"I find that the defendant does at the present time satisfy the criteria of mental illness according to Oregon law," Herndon said. "These proceedings are suspended."

Herndon added that if psychiatrists at the state mental hospital determined that Weaver was faking his symptoms, he would be returned to Clackamas County and his trial for the murders of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis would resume. Weaver sat emotionless through the entire proceeding, often staring at the floor. Relatives of the two girls were in the courtroom, some of whom cried at the judge's ruling.

 

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