Testimony began yesterday in the trial of Robert Walters, an Iraq war veteran charged with killing his girlfriend, Brittney Brashers, and then putting a hit on his wife so she couldn't testify against him. The case against Walters was the subject of our story, "Dead End."
The first major witness to take the stand was Tiffany Peeples, Brashers's best friend and, like Brashers, an Air Force member.
Peeples (whom Westword referred to by her maiden name, Feliciano, in previous coverage) told the jury of eight women and seven men that she became close friends with Brashers when the two deployed to Iraq from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs in February 2009. They were stationed at Ali Air Base, where their job was to escort local Iraqis working on the base, keeping an eye on them to make sure they weren't gathering intelligence on U.S. forces. Peeples described the assignment as "extremely boring."
For fun, she says they would go to the gym, surf the Internet, play ping-pong or take group trips to the mess hall. In March or April, Brashers started dating Walters, who was also stationed at Ali Air Base. Peeples said Walters led everyone to believe he was single.
Eventually, however, they found out that Walters was married to a woman named Elena. He reassured Brashers that it was a "contract marriage," Peeples said. In other words, he only married Elena so he could collect "dependent pay" from the Air Force. Brashers was mad at first, Peeples said, but she eventually accepted his explanation.
All three returned stateside that summer, Peeples said. The next time she saw Walters was in mid-July; he had come to Colorado Springs to visit Brashers and was staying in her Air Force dormitory with her, which was against the rules. Adultery is forbidden in the military, and Peeples admitted that Brashers had been warned to stay away from a married man. But, she said, Brashers disregarded those warnings.
She and Walters continued dating, and on October 24, Peeples said she got a frantic call from Brashers. "Can you hear what he's saying? Can you hear what he's saying?" Brashers asked. Peeples said she could. As he drove himself and Brashers home from a bar, Peeples testified she overheard Walters say, "I'm going to fucking wreck this car!"
Later that night, an argument between Walters and Brashers turned physical, and Walters was arrested for domestic violence. He was furious at Brashers for having called the police on him, and in the weeks following the arrest, he left a message on her voicemail. Brashers played it for Peeples. Yesterday, the jury heard it as well. In it, a drunk-sounding Walters rambles about how much he hates Brashers. His voice is angry and threatening.
"I hate your fucking guts!" he shouted. "You sold me out... You fucked me over so bad!... I wish you would just die... Go kill yourself. Go fucking kill yourself... I hate you!"
As it played, Walters, dressed in navy pants, a khaki shirt and a maroon tie, sat still, looking forward. After it ended, he whispered something to one of his lawyers.
On November 16, 2009, the day before Brashers died, Walters texted Peeples, who'd offered him a place to crash. "What up, homie?" he wrote. "Tell me you need company tonight." But she said she never texted him back. Instead, Walters wound up hanging out with Brashers, who took him along to a photo shoot she was participating in at a Denver strip club. The shoot was for Foxxy Football, a lingerie football team on which she played.
Around 10:30 p.m., Brashers called Peeples. Peeples testified that her friend seemed frustrated. Brashers said Walters was threatening to kill himself and she was worried.
Prosecutors allege that instead, Walters killed Brashers as the two drove home to Colorado Springs. Then, they say, he faked a car accident to cover it up. At around 3 or 4 a.m., just hours after Brashers died, Peeples testified that Walters called her. Just as she'd done earlier that evening, she ignored it.
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Walters's attorneys also questioned Peeples. Attorney Fernando Freyre attempted to cast doubt on Peeples's recollection that Walters had threatened to "fucking wreck this car." Peeples gave several statements in the wake of Brashers's death, he said, yet she didn't mention overhearing that threat until nearly a month later. Why? he asked.
"I don't know," Peeples answered.
The trial is ongoing. Stay tuned for more updates.
More from our Colorado Crimes archives: "Josiah Sher details killings of Amara Wells, Bob Rafferty -- and says why he spared child's life."