DARLINGTON — Authorities will be able to interview the attorney hired by Armin and Sharon Wand one month before the Argyle house fire that killed the Wands’ three boys and critically injured Sharon Wand Sept. 7.
Lafayette County Circuit Judge William Johnston ruled Wednesday that Monroe attorney Scott Thompson could be asked about what was said in meetings between the two Wands and himself, but not about what may have been said between Armin Wand and himself.
Armin Wand and his brother, Jeremy, each face three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count attempted first-degree homicide and one count of arson in connection with the fire that killed Allen, Jeffrey and Joseph Wand. Armin Wand faces an additional charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
The ruling depends on whether or not Sharon Wand’s parents, Jeff and Sharmaine Peterson of Necedah, apply to waive their daughter’s attorney–client privilege, or whether they have the authority to do so as their daughter’s temporary guardians.
“We’re just asking that if the guardian for Ms. Wand wishes to waive that privilege, that waiver be allowed to occur,” said Assistant Attorney General Richard Dufour, one of the two prosecutors in the case.
Armin Wand’s attorney, Guy Taylor, argued that the attorney–client privilege couldn’t legally be waived.
“There is no case in the history of jurisprudence that a witness is a party in a criminal case,” said Taylor. “If it’s not between Armin and Sharon Wand, it simply does not apply. … She’s not bringing charges against him; the state is.”
Johnston noted the allegations of “a scheme or plan or purpose” for Armin Wand to commit an act of fraud, and said state statutes do not allow someone to benefit from the attorney–client privilege “to commit a crime of fraud.”
Johnston said if Sharon Wand were able to testify, “there would probably be no need for this motion,” so “a guardian on her behalf can waive that privilege.”
Johnston said the waiver could apply only to statements that were made while Sharon Wand was present.
The next scheduled hearing in the case is Thursday at 9 a.m., when Johnston will rule on whether Jeremy Wand is competent to stand trial. A competency examination by the state Department of Health Services was ordered Oct. 16.
A planned motion hearing for Oct. 22 was canceled. Dufour said the Argyle School District had released video records from Argyle High School Sept. 6–7 in addition to Jeremy Wand’s student records.
Prosecutors also sought the school records of the Wands’ four children to “assist in showing motive for the offenses,” including if any of the children had “special needs” to “help to show the difficulties of raising children,” to corroborate Armin Wand’s statement that he wanted to burn down the home to get a “fresh start.”
The Wands’ preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 8:30 a.m. They are in the Lafayette County Jail in lieu of bail of $1.4 million and $1.2 million, respectively.