Murdered man’s estate resolved?
The girlfriend of murder victim Danny Williams will likely receive his belongings after a probate dispute was resolved out of court Tuesday, according to lawyers in the case.
A pair of handwriting analyses supported girlfriend Diana J. Gibbs’ claim that her will is authentic, according to her lawyer, and dashed the need for a showdown with Williams’ mother in Nevada County Superior Court.
It had appeared the San Juan Ridge man, fatally shot Oct. 2 in his garage, left behind two conflicting wills – one that bequeathed everything to Gibbs, and another that said his mother, Flo Williams, should get everything.
One expert couldn’t say whether the handwriting on the mother’s will was authentic, while another expert said the writing wasn’t the victim’s, according to Gibbs’ lawyer, Thomas Hastert of Grass Valley.
“I don’t know who wrote the other will, but it’s clearly a forgery,” Hastert said.
The case had been scheduled for an all-day evidentiary hearing Thursday.
Now, Flo Williams’ petition challenging Gibbs’ claim to the property will likely be withdrawn today, said her lawyer, Paul Manka of Nevada City. He declined to discuss reasons for the move but said his client has the option of filing another challenge later.
“Basically, (Williams’ mother and other family members) are withdrawing the petitions so they can sit back and evaluate what the evidence is,” Manka said.
Danny Williams, 51, was shot in the back of his head while working in a garage at the Pleasant Valley Road home he shared with Gibbs. The couple had a wedding party in May 2000 but never formally married.
He left behind motorcycles, vehicles, a gun collection and a mobile home in Shasta County, where his mother resides.
Gibbs’ will was typed, dated Aug. 10, 2000, and allegedly signed Aug. 20, 2000. Flo Williams’ will allegedly was handwritten, dated and signed Aug. 19, 2000.
The probate case was further complicated because Gibbs is a suspect in the Sheriff’s Office’s ongoing investigation. Gibbs reported discovering Williams’ body after returning from a friend’s house, a story the friend corroborated, but she later stopped talking with investigators and hired a criminal defense lawyer.
“She just hopes the sheriff will focus his attention elsewhere, with the will being resolved,” Hastert said.
In response, Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Smith, the lead investigator, said Gibbs could be eliminated as a suspect if she agrees to answer what he called simple questions for a computer voice-stress analysis.
Because she won’t, he said, “We’re researching the backgrounds of several people (associated with her). Our goal was to eliminate her early on as a suspect.”
As for the computer analysis, he said, “It’s technology that isn’t 100 percent infallible, but it’s something we take a lot of stock in.”
Gibbs and her criminal attorney, Michael Phillips of Nevada City, couldn’t be reached for comment.
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