Jury selection in the trial of Robert Walters, an Iraq war veteran accused of killing his girlfriend and then putting a hit on his wife so she couldn't testify against him, began Friday in Denver District Court, and opening arguments will likely begin tomorrow or Wednesday. The central question the jury will have to answer will be this: Did Brittney Brashers, Walters's girlfriend and a fellow veteran, die as the result of an accident? Or was she murdered?
Prosecutors believe Walters murdered Brashers on November 17, 2009, in a drunken rage triggered by Brashers's participation in a topless photo shoot for a lingerie football league. As Brashers drove herself and Walters home from the shoot, Walters began to violently punch her, prosecutors say. After maneuvering the car off the highway, prosecutors say Walters pushed on Brashers's neck until she stopped breathing. Then they say he faked a car crash to make it look like she died in the accident.
Walters's attorneys are expected to argue that the car crash was real. Walters initially told police that he fell asleep on the drive home and awoke only when Brashers's car slammed into two parked vehicles on a dead-end street in west Denver.
Walters wasn't arrested at the scene. After Brashers's death, he returned to his parents' house in California. His wife, Elena Walters, on whom he'd been cheating with Brashers, still lived there. Prosecutors say Walters confessed to her that he'd killed Brashers and then threatened to kill her if she told the police. But that's exactly what she did. She also handed over recordings she'd secretly made of her husband talking about the crime.
Walters was arrested on April 1, 2010. Facing a murder charge and convinced that his wife's testimony was the only real evidence against him, prosecutors say Walters hired a fellow prisoner named Rodrick Williams to kill her. Instead, Williams told the police about Walters's plan in an attempt to cut a deal in his own pending case.
As such, Walters is charged with both the murder of his girlfriend, Brashers, and with soliciting the murder of his wife, Elena Walters. Whether Walters testifies or not, the jury will likely hear from him in the form of the secret recordings, many of which are damning.
"He tells Elena that he thought about killing Elena in detail a couple of different times with a couple of different scenarios, but never Brittney," a summary of one recording states.
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"He says that he never thought about killing her in detail until she took her top off that night. He says that when she took her top off, he realized that she was the scum of the earth and decided he was going to kill her that night.
"He says he made the decision to kill her and went through with it."
Stay tuned for more news from the trial.