State News

Family, attorney: Marine charged in wife's death is innocent

Posted July 17, 2008 1:32 p.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2008 10:49 p.m. EDT

— The family and lawyer of a Marine charged with killing his estranged wife, an Army nurse, expressed their belief in his innocence at a press conference at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon.

John Wimunc is "a man who believes in family, God and country and who served his nation honorably," his lawyer, D.W. Bray, said.

"Johnny is a loving, big-hearted person," his father, Florian Wimunc, said. "Johnny considers everyone a friend, constantly striving for their safety and happiness."

Bray asked for Wimunc to be tried in the court of law, not the media. He said he thinks Wimunc can be tried fairly in Cumberland County, where he is charged with first-degree murder, arson and felony conspiracy in the death of Army 2nd Lt. Holley L. Wimunc, 24, a maternity ward nurse at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center.

Bray noted that Wimunc had served two tours of duty overseas as a Marine and "saw substantially heavy combat in Iraq." Florian Wimunc, though, would not comment on whether he believes his son suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"In John's time of grief, all we want to do as parents is just to hug him," Florian Wimunc said.

Holley Wimunc was last seen on the evening of July 8, and she was reported missing two days later when a co-worker went to her Fayetteville apartment because she didn't show up for work. The co-worker found the remnants of a fire and called police.

Crews fighting a brush fire near Sneads Ferry on Sunday found charred human remains, and investigators said paraphernalia at the scene led them to believe the remains were those of Holley Wimunc.

The Wimuncs had been married for about a year and were going through a divorce. In a statement before his arrest, John Wimunc's parents denied that the separation was bitter.

In May, Holley Wimunc sought a restraining order against her husband after, she wrote in court papers, he knocked her down, held a loaded 9mm pistol to her head and then held it to his own head and threatened to commit suicide.

Lana Wimunc said she spoke to her son on the day of the fight and that he did not sound intoxicated, as Holley Wimunc claimed in the court papers.

"The paperwork was filed, but the facts were false," his parents said in the statement.

The case was dismissed after Holley Wimunc failed to show up at a May 28 court hearing to extend a protection order against John Wimunc. 

Marine Cpl. Kyle Alden also is charged with first-degree arson, felony conspiracy and accessory after the fact of murder. Authorities said Alden helped set fire to Holley Wimunc's apartment to dispose of evidence and also helped establish an alibi for John Wimunc.

The two men's next court date is Aug. 5.