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Developer Convicted of Wife’s Murder to Return to Jail, on Suicide Watch

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Bob Ward, the former millionaire developer who was convicted of murdering his wife, could be out of the hospital and back in jail in the next few days following an apparent overdose of pain pills Saturday.

Just a day after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Ward told officers at the Orange County Jail in Florida that he had purchased a package of ibuprofen from the jail’s commissary, 20 tablets total, and downed them.

Florida corrections officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to ABC News that Ward appeared ill, but could not confirm that he ingested the pills.

Inmates at the jail are allowed to purchase over-the-counter pain medication, Orange County Corrections Department officials told ABC News.  Ibuprofen, used to treat fevers or pain and inflammation, can cause ulcers if taken in too large a quantity.

Ward remains under medical observation at an Orlando hospital, officials said.

In September a jury found Ward guilty of the Sept. 21, 2009, murder of his wife, Diane Ward, in the couple’s mansion in the exclusive Isleworth community.

On Friday, despite his two daughters’ tearful pleas for leniency, a Florida judge sentenced Ward to 30 years in prison.

Ward was scheduled to be sent to a state penitentiary this week to serve out his sentence.

If Ward’s most recent actions are ruled a suicide attempt, he would be placed under suicide watch when he returns to jail.  Corrections officials say that would include removing all belongings from his cell and forcing Ward to wear a single article of clothing, called a “dignity garment,” that would make it impossible for him to hang himself.

In a 911 call immediately after the 2009 shooting Ward admitted shooting his wife, but during the trial his defense called the incident a tragic accident. The defense said Diane Ward had a strong mix of alcohol and antidepressants in her system, and that she could have been suicidal. His attorney said Ward was just trying to save his wife when she was killed.

Ward had also said he was trying to get the gun out of his wife’s hands when it went off.

But prosecutors argued that Ward murdered his wife in a fit of rage inside the couple’s home. She was killed just days before a scheduled deposition on a series of issues related to her husband’s bankrupt company.

The couple was reportedly deep in debt, and Ward apparently could not pay his $17,000 monthly mortgage.

In the 911 call Ward made, which was played in court, he could be heard telling a dispatcher, “I just shot my wife … I just shot my wife. I just shot my wife. She’s dead. She’s done. I’m sorry.”

Ward’s family has been supportive of him all along, even as his behavior in jail immediately following his wife’s death invited intense scrutiny.

Detectives who interviewed him after the shooting noted that he seemed oddly composed. And jailhouse video captured Ward dancing and laughing with his daughter and sister-in-law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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