Du Pont ordered to stand trial in slaying Wrestler's widow recounts how she watched husband die


MEDIA, Pa. -- After hearing the victim's widow describe how she watched her husband die, a judge ordered John E. du Pont, an heir to the du Pont family fortune, to stand trial on charges of first-degree murder.

Within hours of the preliminary hearing yesterday, another judge, who will preside at the trial, ordered that Mr. du Pont be evaluated to determine whether he is competent to stand trial in the death of David Schultz, an Olympic wrestling champion who lived on Mr. du Pont's estate in Newtown Square, Pa.

The competency-evaluation order, signed by Judge Patricia Jenkins of the Court of Common Pleas, requires that Mr. du Pont be examined by two doctors.

At the preliminary hearing, Judge David Videon said a competency evaluation could proceed without delaying the start the trial.

An arraignment is scheduled for March 21, when Mr. du Pont may enter a plea and prosecutors may say whether they will seek the death penalty.

As Mr. du Pont sat wide-eyed but impassively at the defense table, wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt and dark pants, Judge Videon ended the proceeding by saying prosecutors met the standard to hold Mr. du Pont for trial, by establishing that enough evidence exists to show a crime had been committed and that Mr. du Pont is the prime suspect.

Mr. Schultz's widow, Nancy Schultz, was the only witness prosecutors called.

With a crowded courtroom in silent attention, she recounted that in less than a minute on Jan. 26 when the sound of two gunshots drew her outside her house to her driveway, she saw Mr. du Pont fire a third shot into the body of her fallen husband.

"He was still alive," Mrs. Schultz told the court, recalling the moment she reached her husband's side.

"His eyes were open," she said. "There was one more exhale, then gurgling sounds. Then his eyes were fixed, and he passed away."

The case has captured wide interest.

For decades, the life of Mr. du Pont, 57, a multimillionaire, revolved around sports, as an athlete, coach and philanthropist.

His estate, Foxcatcher Farm, became a haven for athletes, mostly wrestlers, whom he supported by providing living quarters and training facilities.

The Schultzes had lived there since 1989.

Since the killing and a two-day standoff with the authorities before Mr. du Pont was arrested on Jan. 28, many more details of his life have emerged, some suggesting that he was an eccentric and some suggesting that he might have become mentally disturbed in recent years.

This week, Mr. du Pont's lawyers arranged for him to undergo a neurological examination.

The results have not been made public.

Whether or not Mr. du Pont was mentally incapacitated at the time of the shooting, his lawyer laid the groundwork yesterday for a possible insanity plea.

After Judge Videon read the charges against Mr. du Pont and asked if he understood them, the defendant whispered something to his lawyer, Richard A. Sprague.

Mr. Sprague then told the court, "He doesn't understand what you have said."

And later, in cross-examining Mrs. Schultz, Mr. Sprague asked several questions that seemed to suggest that Mr. du Pont might have been suffering from a mental disability.

One of them was, "Were you aware that the property you and your husband lived on was considered by John du Pont as holy land of the Dalai Lama?"

Mr. Sprague also asked Mrs. Schultz if she knew whether her husband was building a bazooka or whether Mr. du Pont owned a tank.

While Judge Videon upheld objections to each such question, they seemed to serve Mr. Sprague's purpose of planting seeds for an insanity defense within the community from which a jury will be selected.

With Mr. du Pont virtually silent and motionless throughout the proceedings, most of the emotion was provided by Mrs. Schultz, whose voice often cracked as she recalled how her husband died.

Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Joseph McGettigan, Mrs. Schultz said that her husband went outside about 2:45 p.m. to fix a radio in his car, which was parked in the driveway.

Soon, she heard a shot and heard her husband scream. Running to the front door, she said, she heard a second shot, and when she could finally see the driveway, she said that Mr. du Pont, sitting in the passenger's seat of his car with his right arm extended out the window, fired a third shot into Mr. Schultz and then raised the handgun toward her.

"John, please don't do it," she said she called out to him, before she and Pat Goodall, Mr. du Pont's security guard, who was sitting behind the wheel of Mr. du Pont's car, went inside the house to call 911.

A rescue team arrived shortly, she said.

But hospital workers told her later that Mr. Schultz was dead before they arrived.

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