Hammer attack suspect pleads not guilty




A Vancouver woman accused of killing her husband with a hammer was found mentally competent to stand trial and pleaded not guilty Friday to a first-degree murder charge.

The case against Donna Rae Williams had been in limbo since June 12, when Williams’ attorney, David Kurtz, requested a mental evaluation to determine whether she could assist in her own defense.

On Friday afternoon, Clark County Superior Court Judge Scott Collier, following Western State Hospital’s review of the case, scheduled a trial date of Aug. 27.

Competency is different than insanity. Competency determines whether a defendant understands the charges and can assist in a defense, while insanity is a defense decided by a judge or a jury as to whether the defendant understood right from wrong at the time of the event.

Williams, 51, is accused of bludgeoning her husband with a hammer on May 14, as he slept in the couple’s bed.

The body of Mark Williams, 55, was not discovered until the afternoon of May 30, when Donna Williams called 911 to report the homicide. In her phone call, she calmly confessed to killing her husband, according to an audio transcript of the call.

Responding sheriff’s deputies found Mark Williams in the bed, covered in blood-soaked bedding, according to court documents.

In an interview with sheriff’s investigators, Donna Williams said she bludgeoned her husband because he had punched her in the left eye the night before.

“Donna said that the following morning, she woke up early and looked in the mirror. When she did, she saw the injury to her eye and ‘became frustrated,'” according to the probable cause affidavit filed in court.

She said she went to retrieve a hammer in the garage and struck her husband while he slept. Williams said she believed he was still alive after hitting him several times, according to court documents.

She said she then walked to a convenience store, and when she returned home, Williams said her husband was still breathing, so she struck him in the head again, according to documents.

She is being held in the Clark County Jail.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.