Update: Vienna Doctor Undergoes Mental Evaulation

By: WTAP News Email
By: WTAP News Email

Updated 12/5/2011 @ 9:45 a.m.

Dr. Ralsten has been found not competent at this time to stand trial.

An independent exam suggests that Dr. Ralsten be placed under evaluation at William R Sharpe Junior Hospital for the next three months, at which time he will undergo another mental assessment.

Updated 8/9/2011 @ 10:45 a.m.

Dr. John Ralsten, the Vienna Doctor accused in the death of his wife will undergo an evaluation to determine whether or not he is competent to stand trial.

According to attorney George Cosenza, an independent exam has already been performed by the defense indicating he is not competent to stand trial, but under West Virginia law, the state can also have an independent exam done to assess his mental state.

Cosenza says there is no date set for the states exam, but he anticipates notification within the next few days.

Updated 4/30/2011 @ 6:15 p.m.

Dr. John Ralsten, a Vienna doctor accused in the April 8th death of his wife Carol, has been ordered held without bond.

Dr. Ralsten walked into a Wood County Circuit courtroom with his head down in his first court appearance since being arrested for allegedly murdering his wife Carol.

Assistant Prosecutor Pat Lefebure requested Dr. Ralsten ,who was recently released from a Lewis County psychiatric facility to the North Central Regional last week, be held without bond.

"There was approximately a six hour standoff between himself and the Vienna police department at which time there was cleaning up in the house, evidence was moved, the body was moved. So certainly we have some concerns about appearance for this court or any court," he said.

Lefebure also stated the autopsy showed Carol was shot twice- a close contact wound to the head and a shot to the lower abdomen.

Defense Attorney George Cosenza requested bond be set at $250,000 by property or other assurity under the condition, which he said the family suggested, that Dr. Ralsten be hospitalized or receive medical treatment by mental health professionals while out on bond.

"He does have one prior conviction- a DUI- in North Carolina in 1982. What is significant about that is he was arrested for that offense and was able to leave the state but he did go back to North Carolina even though he was on bond," Cosenza said.

Cosenza also recounted Dr. Ralsten's career as a radiologist and a veteran.

Their daughter, Catherine Haynes Ralsten, who's a neurologist in Morgantown, took the stand saying her father has shown signs of fear and paranoia for more than 8 years.

"The fear that my mother was betraying him," she said.
"When did you become aware of this?" asked Lefebure. She replied "there were accusations many years ago and then this came up again and I became aware of it in Thanksgiving."

As far as she knew and what her mother told her- this was not true.

She said the family is in support of the defense's proposal but Judge Reed said he'll consider it if he gets a better picture of Dr. Ralsten's current mental state.

"Until I can be assured that he's at the proper mental state that he's not going to be a danger to the public and that there's some kind of a treatment plan in place the court is very hesitant and will not release him," said Judge Reed.

The defense said they weren't able to get his medical records in time before this hearing but they do plan to pursue this route.

Cosenza argued he doesn't believe the facts in the criminal complaint meet the requirements for a murder charge but rather voluntary manslaughter. Judge Reed said " the issue of what charge is appropriate is at least partially before the court because if it is first degree, a capital offense then bond would be discretionary. If not first degree, a capital offense, he's entitled to bond."

Again Judge Reed ruled he Dr. Ralsten to be held without bond.

A preliminary hearing in magistrate court is scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m.

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Updated 4/30/2011 @ 10:33 am

A Vienna doctor accused of killing his wife April 8th will be held without bond.

In a hearing Friday morning, Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Reed raised concerns about releasing Ralsten until more is known about the doctor's mental state.

Defense attorney George Cosenza has asked for bond to be set at $250,000 dollars under the condition that Dr. Ralsten undergo treatment.

Dr. Ralsten will be held in jail until a better idea of his mental health is determined.
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UPDATE: 4/28/11 6:15PM

A Vienna doctor accused of murdering his wife three weeks ago will appear in court Friday.

On April 8, police say Dr. John Ralsten murdered his wife, Carol, at the home they shared.

Police reports say they found her body in the basement with a gunshot wound and head injuries.

Just last week, Ralsten was released from a secure facility in Lewis County to be moved to the North Central Regional Jail, where he remains.

A Wood County Circuit Court Clerk tells us Ralsten will appear in judge Reed's court room Friday morning at 9:30AM for a bond hearing.
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Updated: 4/20/2011 1:30PM

According to a news release from Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton, John Ralsten has been arrested on a murder warrant from Wood County Magistrate Court.

Ralsten was arrested in Lewis County by the West Virginia State Police.

He was then taken to Magistrate Court in Lewis County for arraignment.

He is now being held in one of West Virginia's regional jail.

Ralsten will appear in the Wood County Magistrate Court sometime in the next 20 days for a preliminary hearing.

Stay tuned to WTAP-TV and WTAP.COM for the latest information as it becomes available.

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Update 4/12/2011 11:54 PM

According to the criminal complaint, on the night of April 8th, Doctor John Ralsten willfully, maliciously, deliberately and unlawfully killed his wife, Carol Ralsten.

The complaint goes on to say that when Vienna Police arrived on the scene officers met two relatives who said they had spoken with Dr. Ralsten earlier that day. They say, Dr. Ralsten informed them that he had shot his wife, Carol Ralsten, while scuffling over a gun.

While speaking with Vienna Police Chief George Young, the complaint says, Ralsten admitted that being stronger than his wife he was able to keep the gun from pointing at him. Ralsten stated that the gun discharged and Carol Ralsten was shot.

After six hours, Dr. Ralsten surrendered to law enforcement officials.

Authorities went into the Ralsten home and found a blood trail starting from the first floor of the residence leading to the basement. The blood trail was seen leading to the basement storage room at the bottom of the stairs.

To the right of the storage area doorway, the complaint explains, officers discovered Carol Ralsten lying slumped over with a gunshot wound to the left side and a severe head injury.

The complaint goes on to say a search of the Ralsten home turned up a .38 caliber handgun in the upstairs bathroom along with two slugs and a hatchet.

Officials state the slugs and hatchet had appeared to have blood on them. Spent shell casings were found in a clothing basket in the basement laundry room which is adjacent to where the body was located.

Dr. Ralsten remains in the secure facility he was taken to after he surrendered to authorities.
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Update 4/11/2011 6:53 PM

Almost 72 hours after the standoff in Vienna, neighbors speak about the Ralsten family and their response to Carol Ralsten's death.

Friday night, Doctor John Ralsten was taken into custody and placed in a "secure facility" after allegedly shooting his wife, Carol Ralsten.

Officials say Carol Ralsten's body was found in the basement of the Ralsten home, and suffered a gunshot wound to her left side and head injuries. Now, neighbors are honoring her memory and remembering her fondly.

"We got to really know each other quite well and I know her children," says Jerry Dinicola, neighbor to the Ralsten's. "Carol (Ralsten) really knew my Carol (Dinicola). She was a really, really lovely woman and everyone thought very highly of her."

Dinicola says Friday night's events are hard to fathom, especially since the Ralsten's seem to be living a peaceful, happy life.

"It's just hard to believe because it has a tragic effect on everybody. The children, and John. You just don't understand what causes such a situation. Because there's no indication at any time of any problem in the family. So, you just hate to think of it and the effect, the bad effect it has on everybody."

Although details as to what exactly happened in the Ralsten home on April 8th are still unclear, Dinicola says his thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ralsten family.

"You know during a period such as this you need as much support as you can get from friends and family," Dinicola says. "I'm sure they'll get through this but it's a very, very trying time."
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Update 4/11/11 12:30 AM

A Vienna radiologist remained in custody Sunday evening after allegedly killing his wife Friday night.

Doctor John Ralsten was placed in what officials say is a "secure facility" after a six hour standoff with area police Friday night.

According to authorities, the body of Carol Ralsten was found in the basement of the Ralsten home She had a gun shot wound to her left side and head injuries.

The official cause of death has not yet been determined but her body has been taken to the Medical Examiners Office in Charleston for an autopsy.

Authorities say Dr. Ralsten will be charged with first degree murder once he is released from the facility.

There's no word yet on when he will be arrested or arraigned.

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Update 4/10/11 12:33 AM

Wood County Coroner Mike St. Clair said the victim's name is Carol Ralsten. He said an autopsy will be performed Monday at the Medical Examiner's Office.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Leavitt Funeral Home in Parkersburg.

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Update 4/09/11 3:10PM

Vienna Police say a Vienna radiologist will be charged with first-degree murder, in the shooting death of his wife Friday afternoon.

Police Chief George Young says Dr. John N. Ralsten is currently being held in a secure medical facility. Young says a warrant was obtained Saturday morning in Wood County Municipal Court charging him with first-degree murder. Chief Young says Ralsten will be formally charged once he is released from the facility.

The shooting was first reported shortly before 4:30 PM Friday. Chief Young says negotiations with Dr. Ralsten lasted close to six hours before he surrendered. The body of his wife, Carol, was found shortly afterward, when Vienna Police, assisted by Parkersburg Police, the Wood County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State Police, entered the residence.

Police say there was a scuffle before the shooting occurred. Mrs. Ralsten suffered a gunshot wound to her side and a severe head injury.

Chief Young says police know of no incidents involving the couple prior to Friday's incident.
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UPDATE 4/09/11 12:30AM

Dr. John N. Ralsten is a radiologist from Vienna, who graduated from WVU Medical School in 1965. He was certified by the American Board of Radiologists.

He and his wife, Carol, were recently honored at a gathering of Marshall University supporters.

According to an article in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel earlier this year, Dr. Ralsten's brother and the brother's wife were killed in the crash of an airplane on Nov. 14, 1970, which killed 75 people, including the Marshall football team, staff and community members. As a result, Dr. Ralsten and his wife raised the couple's children as well as their own.

Dr. Ralsten and his wife have three children of their own.
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UPDATE: 4/08/11 11:20PM

Police tell us they have John Ralsten in custody in connection to the Vienna shooting, Friday night.

Ralsten is approximately 73-years old.

Police have confirmed a deceased woman was found inside the 4th Avenue home.

They have not confirmed whether or not Ralsten lived in the home.

Ralsten's relationship to the deceased is not known at this time.
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UPDATE: 9:23 pm

Several area agencies remain on the scene in Vienna.

We're told that police are still talking to the alleged shooter, who remains inside the 4th Avenue home.

Traffic is still closed at the intersection of 46th Street and Grand Central Avenue.

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Updated 5:08 pm

The Vienna Police Department confirms there was a shooting. According to officials at the Command Center, it appears to have been an accident. Officials believe the shooter is a relative of the victim, but the relation is unclear at this time.

Police say they're are in communication with a man inside the home.

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Authorities are on the scene of an alleged shooting in Vienna and have shut down all incoming and outgoing traffic on the 4600 block of 4th Avenue.

Randy Lowe, with the Wood County 911 Center, tells WTAP that the call came in about 4:40 this afternoon.

Vienna Police have been dispatched to the home on 4th Avenue. Other local authorities are setting up a command center at the intersection of 46th Street and Grand Central Avenue.

Authorities warn residents of that area to use extreme caution at this time.

We have a reporter on the scene and will keep you update right here on wtap.com and on WTAP News at 5 and 6.


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