Nail-gun murder suspect out of hospital
November 28, 2005
GRASS VALLEY – To the surprise of Nevada County investigators, the landscaper accused of killing his estranged wife with a nail gun has been released from a hospital.
Richard Williams, 51, was arrested, handcuffed and led by deputies into the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on Friday. Williams had been hospitalized at Roseville Sutter Memorial Center since Oct. 22, when Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies found him in his home on Alta Drive with concrete nail gun wounds to his chest and abdomen.
His wife, Hetty Williams, who was also found in the home, died from two nail-gun wounds to her head.
Deputies have been stationed outside Williams’ hospital room 24 hours a day in 12-hour shifts since his admittance. Weary of working extra hours, they have been waiting for Williams’ condition to improve enough for him to be jailed.
Due to patient privacy laws, hospital administration has not revealed Williams’ condition to the sheriff’s office or the press.
“They’ve held this close to the cuff,” said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal Friday night. “That information is protected.”
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Royal said he learned of Williams’ release after hospital staff released him.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Barbara Garland said Williams was booked without incident and placed in the jail’s medical unit.
In the days leading to Williams’ arrest, hospital staff were reportedly afraid of Williams, said Sheriff’s Lt. Ron Smith.
They had to have constant contact with the murder suspect, Smith said.
Staff had to check his vital signs on a regular basis, as well as feed and bathe him.
Williams’ lawyer and frequent visitor, Stephen Munkelt, said he would have preferred that Williams was arrested in his hospital room shortly after he was admitted to the hospital in order to facilitate a speedier court process.
But if Williams had been arrested immediately after the Oct. 22 incident, the county would have been at least partly responsible for costs associated with his health care, sheriff’s officials said.
In related matters, Munkelt was in court Tuesday with a motion asking the Sheriff’s Office to return about $7,000 in cash that investigators found in the Williams residence near the time of the shooting.
Lawyers for the Williams children and for the estate of the slain Hetty Williams had no objection to the motion. “Since it didn’t have any evidentiary value, the cash was released,” Nevada County District Attorney Michael Ferguson said Wednesday.
Williams was arraigned Monday in Nevada County Superior Court.