PARKERSBURG-The Vienna man arrested for allegedly murdering his longtime wife waived his preliminary hearing Monday.
John Ralsten was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday before Wood County Magistrate Donna Jackson. Ralsten, accompanied by his attorney George Cosenza, waived the hearing.
Ralsten, escorted by a Wood County sheriff's deputy, was brought into magistrate court wearing his jail-issued orange jumpsuit and shackled. Shuffling in, he kept his head down, avoiding being photographed.
Wood County Magistrate Donna Jackson discusses John Ralsten’s waiver of a preliminary hearing with h
Ralsten continued to keep his head down throughout the proceeding and appeared to attempt to use Cosenza to shield himself from the media.
After the hearing, Ralsten was taken to the Wood County Holding Center to await transport back to the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County.
Last week, Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Reed denied bond for Ralsten, who was charged with the April 8 murder of his wife, 70-year-old Carol Ralsten. After a six-hour standoff between police and John Ralsten, the body of Carol Ralsten was found in the basement of their Vienna home.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Wood County Magistrate Donna Jackson discusses John Ralsten’s waiver of a preliminary hearing with his attorney, George Cosenza, Monday.
Carol Ralsten had been shot twice and suffered a severe head wound. John Ralsten was taken from the scene to Sharpe Hospital, a psychiatric facility near Weston, where he was held for 12 days before being released, arrested and charged with murder.
At last week's bond hearing Cosenza acknowledged a scuffle for a gun between the Ralstens and argued the facts of the case supporting a charge of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.
Ralsten's daughter Katherine Ralsten, a neurologist, testified she had observed fear and paranoia from her father. Katherine Ralsten said her father had accused Carol Ralsten of cheating on him a few years ago, and over the Thanksgiving holiday she learned he was making the same accusations.
She also said John Ralsten would walk 10 to 12 feet behind the family in unfamiliar surroundings to make sure they weren't attacked.
In magistrate court Monday, Ralsten appeared lucid, engaging Cosenza and Jackson. He was polite and spoke audibly to officials. He complained to Cosenza about the presence of the media. Cosenza said there was nothing he could do as it was their right to be there.
"We can't prevent that," Cosenza told his client.
Jackson asked Ralsten's handcuffs be removed and she introduced herself to the 74-year-old.
"Yes ma'am, nice to see you," he said to Jackson.
Ralsten needed glasses to review his paperwork before signing the waiver. His case will be bound over, awaiting presentation to a grand jury.
A Wood County grand jury is scheduled to be convened May 9. Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton said he couldn't say if Ralsten's case will be presented next week.
"The rules of grand jury specifically prohibit discussing cases which will be presented to a particular grand jury so I can't comment on whether or not it will be presented next week," he said.