BUCKHANNON – A judge denied bond to be set for a man who has been held in jail for the alleged first-degree murder of his father since March.
Timothy Allen McWilliams, 65, has been held without bond since March 8, the date of his arrest for the alleged murder of his father, Norman “Leo” McWilliams. McWilliams allegedly admitted to sheriff’s deputies that he got into an altercation with his father and while Leo McWilliams was lying face down on the ground, got on his back and cut his throat with a knife, according to previous The Record Delta articles.
On Tuesday, McWilliams’ attorney, Dennis Willett, asked that Circuit Court Judge Kurt Hall consider setting a bond.
He called one witness, McWilliams’ sister, Rita Yaun, who testified that McWilliams would be able to return to the home he had lived in since 1987 with his parents and the home where she is caring for their elderly mother if released on bond.
“My brother has never been violent,” she said when asked by Willett if she had concerns about McWilliams living back in the family’s home. “I’m not scared of my brother.”
Yaun testified that her brother had been the caretaker of the property and did chores while he resided there with their parents. He did not own a car or driver’s license and walked for exercise or to needed appointments.
Prosecuting attorney David Godwin asked Yaun where she was when her father died.
Yaun said she had been in Florida but had returned home when she learned of her father’s death.
The prosecuting attorney asked Yaun if she had any concerns because her father had suffered a partial decapitation at the hand of her brother.
“You weren’t afraid of his safety before that?” he asked.
Yaun did say she was aware that McWilliams had mental issues and that her father had administered McWilliams’ financial affairs because he was unable to do that. Since her father’s death, Yaun has been handling McWilliam’s financial affairs.
She said that she had been coming back and forth more regularly in the last 10 years to take care of her dad who had dementia but was then diagnosed with Alzheimers.
During cross examination, Willett asked Yaun what she meant when she said her father’s symptoms were “way worse.”
Yaun answered, “Daddy had become very violent in his later time. He had threatened to kill mom. He had threatened us kids. He had recently had an accident before that and had head trauma. He progressively got worse after that accident and became more violent.”
Willett told the court that McWilliams had been incarcerated since March 8 and had just undergone a competency evaluation where he was found competent to stand trial.
“Mr. McWilliams’ other siblings stand behind him as Ms. Yaun does,” he said. “This seems to be a rather unfortunate and very bizarre occurrence given the totality of circumstances involved.
“She (Yaun) is not in fear of him whatsoever. It doesn’t appear he presents a danger to the public in general. I don’t believe he presents a danger to Ms. Yaun or her mother.”
Willett suggested home confinement for McWilliams.
“Given his history, his lack of finances, he is not a risk,” he said. “He has lived in the home since 1987. He is not going anywhere. I would ask the court to set a reasonable bond.”
Godwin said, “It’s unfortunate that the defendant was living in that home on March 8. It was not a safe situation at the time.”
Godwin said the mental problems of the father may have been part of that – alluding to Yaun’s testimony of dementia and later Alzheimer’s diagnosis for her father.
But Godwin said that McWilliams had “basically almost cut his [father’s] head off when he was defenseless.”
“She is not afraid for her safety now and she wasn’t afraid for her father’s safety then,” he said.
“This is a very sad circumstance. I don’t think the defendant should be released – not because he is a flight risk – I doubt he is, but because of the nature of the crime and the danger of harm until this case is resolved.”
Hall said, “I agree with Mr. Godwin.”
The judge said he only knew what he had read in the complaint and what he had heard in the court. However, Hall expressed concern with McWilliams’ mother being an elderly woman with dementia and noted that McWilliams had been taking care of his mother and father while he had his own mental health problems at the time of the alleged murder.
“Now, I hear he would be residing in the same residence in almost the exact same situation,” he said. “I’m not willing to do that.
“The court finds the protection of the public at large includes his own mother and sister.”
Hall said putting McWilliams back in a similar situation with his mother and the lack of information available along with the nature of the offense led him to deny bond.
“It’s a very violent offense,” he said. “I think it is undisputed that there was near decapitation and that is pretty violent.”
Although it was not brought up in the hearing, McWilliams’ was previously convicted of murder and malicious assault in 1980 stemming from an incident at a Morgantown nightclub, but this was later reversed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. McWilliams was acquitted of both counts.