Ralph Wald, 70, woke around midnight March 10 to find his wife having sex with 32-year-old Walter Conley on the living room floor. Wald silently went back to his bedroom to retrieve a .38 revolver, then returned to the living room where he shot Conley in the stomach and head, killing him instantly.
Conley was the ex-boyfriend of Wald's wife, 41-year-old Johnna Lynn Flores. The Tampa Bay Times reports that prosecutors described Wald, a former Army lieutenant colonel with erectile dysfunction, flying into a jealous rage at the site of Conley doing what he could not.
"It's a personal insult to conduct that kind of activity in a man's home, his castle," Assistant State Attorney Chris Moody said in closing arguments Thursday. "That kind of deep and personal insult, when you find another man having sex in your living room and you can't, would make you want to lash out. And he did."
Wald's attorneys argued that he did not recognize Colney, and believed an intruder was raping his wife. The defense invoked the state's "stand your ground" law, noting that Wald had "no duty to retreat" when faced with perceived danger.
Defense attorney Joe Episcopo said that Wald, who was decorated for valor in combat in Vietnam, was "trained what you do with the enemy … you take your gun and kill the enemy."
Flores claimed that she was "black-out drunk" on cognac and didn't remember getting together with her former lover. When she found out her husband was acquitted, Flores cried tears of happiness. "I am elated, absolutely elated," she said.
Flores added that Wald had a celebration planned for his release from jail. "Because my husband puts me first, he's taking me to the Waffle House," Flores said.