From the witness stand, Christy Stewart fought the tears that flowed from her eyes as a Cass County assistant prosecutor asked her to identify her stepdad in a photograph displayed on a screen from a projector inside Judge Michael Wagner’s second-floor courtroom at the Cass County Justice Center.
Stewart recognized the man in the picture to be 66-year-old Robert Walters who died Sept. 8, 2010 at an Overland Park, Kan. hospital after he was allegedly shot in the upper lip by Stewart’s mother.
Stewart testified in court Jan. 15 on the second day of Cynthia Walters’ murder trial in Harrisonville that she had seen tension rise between the Belton couple’s relationship the day before police believe her mother picked up a short-barrel handgun from a nightstand near their bed and pointed it at her father’s face as he appeared to have his eyes closed while resting in a recliner in a living room area inside the couple’s home in the 1500 block of E. 187th St. of rural Belton.
Walters, 63, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action after she told law enforcement officers that the gun went off as she pulled the trigger.
“I had no idea the gun was loaded,” Walters told Cass County Sheriff’s Office investigators during a recorded interview hours after she was arrested. “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”
But the gun fired when Walters pointed it at her significant other and a shot was fired into his face.
She immediately called 911 for paramedic assistance when she observed that Walters was not breathing.
“I shot my husband,” she told a dispatcher.
Walters then began giving her husband CPR as she waited for help to arrive. Blood from his wound got in her mouth and on her face, officers later observed.
The couple initially married in 1979, but had divorced twice. They had gotten back together and were living in the same home at the time of the murder, but were not legally married.
During an interview with investigators on the night of the crime, Walters said they always bickered at each other. In the days leading up to the incident, Walters had expressed that she wanted to go back to work as a registered nurse at a long-term care facility, but he had told her that “she was stupid” and that she “might as well give up.”
Walters hadn’t worked in two years as a nurse after she fainted as a result from a medical condition. However, her husband was still drawing a paycheck in her name each month from the care facility he owned, in the amount of $3,600 each month. Walters only received $500 from the paycheck, and wanted to go to work so she could make her own money. Walters said he would no longer be able to collect the money if she found new work.
“We had a major argument. I’m not a stay-at-home kind of girl. I’ve worked all my life,” Walters said. “But I didn’t mean to hurt him. I wanted him to know he couldn’t walk all over me and call me names.”
Walters said she liked having her freedom, and her partner liked having his. She just intended to scare him, she told police.
According to his obituary, Walters spent most of his life owning and operating nursing homes in the Kansas City area. At the time of his death, he owned Timberlake Care Center, which he built in the mid-1980s.
Over and over again during the 30-minute segment of the interview with investigators, Walters expressed how she couldn’t believe she had shot him and how much she loved him.
But in the days leading up to the incident, Walters said their arguments had advanced past normal bickering.
During her testimony, Stewart told jurors that she overheard her mother’s side of a phone conversation between the couple while on a shopping trip the day before the incident that involved an employee from the business.
Stewart said she heard Walters telling her father that she “never wanted to talk to him again.” The daughter also heard her mother use a variety of expletives before hanging up the phone.
No other mentions of her dad arose during their shopping trip. Still concerned, Stewart called her mom the next morning to ask about the fighting. Walters told her daughter not to worry about it.
But tension continued to escalate throughout the day and Walters thought it would scare her husband if he heard the gun click.
After the gun went off, she saw blood coming from his mouth and began administering CPR.
When police arrived at the residence, they found a man sitting in a chair bleeding from the mouth. EMS transported the victim to the hospital.
Walters was immediately arrested at the scene without incident by Belton police, but was later transported to jail by Cass County deputies.
It was while watching the evening news later in the day that she learned of the shooting at her parent’s home, Stewart said in court.
As emotions continued to flow, Stewart told the jury that her father died from his injuries two days later after he underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his body.
From across the courtroom from where Stewart was positioned, Walters sat in her seat at the defense table, wearing a black and white inmate uniform with her long gray hair pulled back, with her hand over her mouth with a sense of horror in her face.
On Jan. 16, the state brought forth two more witnesses before prosecutors and Walters’ defense attorneys rested. Walters chose not to testify in her case.
The jury reached a verdict in the trial Friday, Jan. 17 at around 1:30 p.m.. The jury found Walters to be guilty of murder in the second degree and armed criminal action.
On the murder charge, Walters could face 10-30 years at the Missouri Department of Correction prision. The armed criminal action charge carries a minimum of a three-year prison term.
Sentencing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday, March 10. Walters will continued to be held in the Cass County Jail on a $500,000 cash/surety bond until her sentencing.