After verdict, Wold went on hunger strike
Waukesha – Darren M. Wold, convicted of the murder of his girlfriend, Kimberly Smith, is now being force fed after going on a hunger strike the day after a jury found him guilty.
On Tuesday, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge James R. Kieffer, who presided over the 2 ½-week trial, signed an order authorizing the “involuntary administration” of nutrition and water to Wold “under restraints if necessary.” Because of Wold’s condition the district attorney is requesting his sentencing date be moved from Dec. 20 to Dec. 2.
Wold, 43, of Lubbock, Texas, was convicted of conspiring with Jack E. Johnson, 67, of Mexico, to hire Justin P. Welch, 28, of California, to kill Smith, 39. Welch stabbed Smith at her Oconomowoc home on Oct. 1, 2009. Welch testified at the trial he was to be paid $7,000 by Wold for the murder. At the time of Welch’s arrest in November 2009, he testified he had been paid about $2,300.
Wold and Smith had a son together but then became involved in a bitter custody battle. Wold, formerly of Germantown, moved to Texas in 2009. Johnson, formerly of Waukesha and Oconomowoc, retired to Mexico about five years ago. Wold and Johnson had been longtime friends.
When the jury read the verdict Nov. 2, after only deliberating for three hours, Wold hung his head and wept through the remainder of the proceedings.
According to document dated Nov. 21 filed by the Waukesha County Corporation Counsel, Wold engaged in a hunger strike on Nov. 3 and has had suicidal thoughts.
“Darren M. Wold has refused all food in the jail,” wrote attorney Deborah B. Price of the corporation counsel. Price wrote Wold had recently taken “sips of fluid or ice chips, he is not consistently taking sufficient fluids to maintain his health.”
Due to the hunger strike, Wold has been taken to a hospital emergency room four times on Nov. 6, Nov. 9, Nov. 17 and Nov. 19. Price wrote that in the opinion of the treating physician in the jail that during Wold’s hunger strike he has “refused to consume food and fluids in sufficient quantities to maintain his health for an extended period of time. As a result, he is currently suffering from moderate to severe dehydration, moderate malnutrition and other deleterious conditions.”
In the treating physician’s opinion, there is “an immediate concern” because insufficient fluids can result in serious harm or death in a 72-hour period and without sufficient nutrition serious harm or death could happen in a four-day period, Price wrote.
In addition, according to jail staff, having to transport Wold to the hospital creates security risks, Price said. The transport costs and emergency treatment are also creating “significant expenses” to the jail, Price wrote.
In a letter dated Nov. 21 filed in court by the jail physician, Wold is showing symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration, dizziness, low blood pressure and moderate malnutrition.
On three of the four occasions Wold was taken to the hospital his stays appeared to brief. During those times Wold on Nov. 6 refused foods, fluids or treatment, on Nov. 17, he refused food but consented to intravenous fluids, and on Nov. 19, he refused the intravenous fluids but some consumed some fluids, according to the physician. On Nov. 9, Wold was placed in emergency detention at the hospital and after receiving some intravenous fluids was transported to a state mental health hospital. He returned to the jail on Nov. 11.
This is not the first time Wold’s mental and physical health has become an issue.
In September 2010, Wold’s attorney, Anthony Rosario, requested Kieffer to order Wold to be examined as he was concerned about the decline in Wold’s health and his ability to assist Rosario.
“We believe it could be a mental disease, depression-related, and it’s getting to the point to where we are not getting anywhere,” Rosario said at a hearing. A court-appointed psychologist examined Wold and found him competent.
Due to the medical concerns, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel is asking Kieffer to move Wold’s sentencing date from Dec. 20 to Dec. 2.
In a Nov. 11 letter from Schimel to Kieffer, Schimel said after Wold returned to the jail after the guilty verdict “he lay down in his bunk and has not gotten up since, other than to make a few phone calls with his parents. He is completely uncommunicative with staff, including both jail and medical personnel, and has been refusing to eat or drink anything since his court date.”
Schimel said the jail is not well-equipped to handle these problems and that the Department of Corrections is better equipped to handle the problems.
Also, Schimel said another reason to move up the sentencing was for the victims as the original date for the sentencing is close to the Christmas holidays. “From the perspective of the victims, they would prefer to have this matter occur sooner to avoid dealing with these emotions so close to the holidays,” Schimel wrote.
Wold was in Waukesha County Jail as of Wednesday, jail records show. A hearing will be held Nov. 30 regarding the issues.
Johnson writes letter
In another matter, Johnson, who acted as the middleman in the murder-for-hire case, wrote a letter dated Nov. 8 to Kieffer stating he was being treated inhumanly. Johnson wrote during the third day of the trial he was moved to another part of the jail. Johnson wrote he earlier had a bed but was then “made to sleep on a mattress on the floor.”
“I was forced to walk on cold, hard concrete. I have a circulation problem and was told it’s protocol,” Johnson said, adding his feet and legs hurt. Johnson asked to be returned to his earlier cell where he had a bed.
“Your Honor, I’ve done nothing to warrant this inhumane treatment,” Johnson wrote. Senior Correctional Facility Manager Margaret Schnabl wrote that Johnson is not being treated “inhumanly.” At the start of the trial Johnson was placed on a suicide protocol at the recommendation of the jail mental health staff “due to his extremely unrealistic expectations regarding the outcome of the trial.”
Schnabl said Johnson has been returned to medium classification housing.
Kieffer ordered Johnson’s jail placement to remain the same.
Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9. Both Johnson and Wold are facing sentences of life in prison without the chance of parole.
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