August 20, 1991

Four siblings have settled a Montgomery County lawsuit against their father, whom they accused of killing their mother with the antidepressant drug Prozac.

Under the settlement, the children, rather than the father, will receive a significant part of the $700,000 in life insurance benefits, one of the lawyers involved said.

The four grown children of Ramona Carol Wakefield, who died in her Silver Spring home in 1989, had contended that Afton G. Wakefield killed his wife with overdoses of Prozac. The Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Ramona Wakefield died because of “unusually high” levels of the drug in her blood. In April, however, a Montgomery Circuit Court judge dismissed the murder charge against Afton Wakefield after a brief trial in which an expert witness said it was “extremely unlikely” that Prozac caused the woman’s death.

Afton and Ramona Wakefield’s three children and her son from a previous marriage filed a civil lawsuit challenging Afton Wakefield’s right to collect $700,000 from two insurance policies on his wife’s life.

Under the settlement, reached last week, the four siblings “will be receiving substantially all of the insurance proceeds that were available,” said Bruce Bender, one of their lawyers.

Not all of the $700,000 in life insurance claims will be paid under the settlement, he said, because one of the insurance companies contended that Ramona Wakefield had misrepresented her assets when taking out the policy.

Bender said the four siblings “are happy that it’s over. They felt their position in bringing this lawsuit was to stop Afton George Wakefield from receiving any benefits from taking her life, and they feel they’ve substantially obtained that objective.”