A jury of eight women and four men found 63-year-old Cynthia Walters guilty of second-degree murder and armed criminal action following a four-day trial inside Judge Michael Wagner’s Harrisonville courtroom.
The jury reached its verdict by mid-day Jan. 17 following testimonies from Belton and Cass County law enforcement officials and Jackson County Medical Examiner Mary Dudley who worked the death investigation of Robert Walters, 66, who was shot in the face by his wife inside their Belton home Sept. 6, 2010.
Walters’ daughter, Christy Stewart, Raymore, also took the witness stand.
Stewart testified in court that she had seen tension rise between her parents on the day before her mother picked up a short-barrel revolver 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 was charged with first-degree murder and a count of 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, the bullet hitting Robert Walters in the 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 reportedly 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.
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.”
Following the shooting, Walters told police that she thought it would scare her husband if he heard the gun click.
But the gun went off and the victim was shot in the upper lip area.
When police arrived at the residence, they found a man sitting in a chair bleeding from the mouth.
Walters was immediately arrested at the scene without incident by Belton police, but was later transported to jail by Cass County deputies.
The victim died from his injuries two days later after he underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his body.
Walters chose not to testify in her case. Her attorney, Scott Friedrich, filed a judgment of acquittal. Wagner denied the motion.
In closing arguments, Assistant Cass County Prosecutor Jamie Hunt asked jurors for a first-degree murder conviction, asserting that Walters acted with cool reflection and intentionally murdered her husband.
“She recklessly caused the death of Robert Walters,” Hunt said. “She chose to pick up a gun. She chose to raise that gun and point it at her husband’s head.”
Friedrich argued that Walters believed the gun was unloaded, as her husband reportedly told her that all the guns in the home were empty, despite the fact that a deputy found three other loaded handguns in the house.
“She didn’t intentionally mean to do anything,” Friedrich said. “You could tell in her eyes it was a tragedy. Nobody deserves to go to prison for the rest of her life...for a tragedy.”
As Hunt and Friedrich made their final remarks, Walters wept from the defense table.
She could face 10-30 years at the Missouri Department of Correction prison. 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 continues to be held in the Cass County Jail on a $500,000 cash/surety bond.