Jury finds woman guilty of murder in death of estranged husband

A Baltimore County jury on Thursday found a 60-year-old woman guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of her estranged husband in Glen Arm.

Mary C. Koontz was charged in the June 19, 2009, killing of Ronald G. Koontz and with the attempted murder of her daughter, Kelsey, who was 16 at the time.

Koontz offered an insanity defense -- essentially asking the jury to find that she was not responsible because she was mentally ill. The jury rejected that argument. She was also convicted of first-degree attempted murder for firing toward her daughter, now 17, but the girl was uninjured.

Seated in the front row of the courtroom Thursday, Kelsey held the hands of two women, one of whom is her sister-in-law, the wife of her half-brother. When the last of the verdicts were announced, indicating that Koontz had been declared criminally responsible, Kelsey and her sister-in-law, Beth Luca, burst into tears.

Deputy State's Attorney Robin S. Coffin, who prosecuted the case, hugged Kelsey and other family members, and then went to the judge's chambers with Richard M. Karceski, the defense attorney, to set a sentencing date for Aug. 10. Coffin had asked Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger to schedule the sentencing before Kelsey departs for college out of state in mid-August.

"We're relieved," Kelsey said after the verdicts were announced.

The county state's attorney, Scott Shellenberger, read a statement on behalf of the Koontz family outside the courthouse.

"We are grateful for the diligence and patience of the jury in their pursuit for truth and justice," he said. "Ronald Koontz was a loving father, loyal friend and dedicated Baltimore County employee. We are offended by the defense's unyielding attacks on Ronald Koontz's character. We do not, however, feel the need to defend his honor because he left his legacy in the students he taught, the children he raised and the people he inspired."

Two days before his death, Ron Koontz attended a party in honor of his retirement after more than 30 years in the county schools system, mostly as an administrator.

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