Joseph Ward, facing murder charge, tells authorities victim was secret society member
Jurors in the competency trial of accused murderer Joseph Ward heard claims Wednesday that stabbing victim Kenneth Pestana served in a secret society and was a government informer with permission to kill.
Ward, 32, told investigators in recorded interviews he believed Pestana, 61, had secret rooms underneath his Highway 20 home. Ward saw steam emanate from the house that he believed made bodies disappear. Bodies were buried in Pestana’s yard, he claimed. Additionally, Ward said he had a chip implanted in his head. He asked detectives to take him to a hospital for X-rays to prove he was chipped.
“I ain’t ever done nothing,” Ward said in one interview. “I ain’t no murderer.
“There’s a big conspiracy going on,” he added moments later. “There’s nothing in the house that would make that much steam.”
Jurors on Wednesday began hearing evidence in the case. They must determine if Ward, arrested days after Pestana’s death, was competent at the time of the June 7 slaying. Ward will proceed to trial on his murder charge, if jurors determine he was competent. Alternatively, he’d go to a state hospital in the attempt to restore his competency.
Ward in two different recorded interviews spoke for about two hours. He repeatedly claimed that Pestana, who he’d known since childhood, worked for the government and for the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
“I don’t know nothing,” Ward said at one point. “I know what I felt and I know what I saw.
“I don’t want to admit to doing something,” he added later.
Under questioning by Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis, sheriff’s Detective Andrew Liller said he chose against having Ward X-rayed for a chip. He said it wasn’t worth the security risk and didn’t believe Ward.
“Did you find any machine that makes bodies disappear?” Zuromskis asked. Liller said he didn’t.
In his second interview Ward said God would urge him to leave Pestana’s home, where he felt an evil presence.
Ward called himself a good person who helped people. He urged investigators to visit Pestana’s home and search for the bodies he said lay there.
Sheriff’s Detective Rhiannon King asked Ward how the discovery of any bodies would help his case.
“It sounds like I’m making all this up and I’m a murderer,” he said. “Go find the bodies. Go find this stuff.”
The competency trial is scheduled to continue today.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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