Afghanistan com­bat vet charged with killing wife

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A New York state po­lice trooper re­spond­ing to re­ports of gun­fire was shot to death by a sol­dier who had just killed his wife at their home near his Army base, author­i­ties said Mon­day. Trooper Joel Davis was ap­proach­ing the cou­ple’s home in ru­ral Theresa, near the Cana­dian bor­der, when Staff Sgt. Justin Wal­ters shot him in the torso with a ri­fle, leav­ing him in a road­side ditch, po­lice and court doc­u­ments said. An­other trooper ar­rived and found Davis, who died about an hour later at a hospi­tal.

Wal­ters’ wife, Ni­c­hole Wal­ters, was found dead in the drive­way, with mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds. A fe­male friend of hers, who was liv­ing on the prop­erty, also was shot, suf­fer­ing non-life-threat­en­ing in­juries, po­lice said. Davis, 36, had been a state po­lice trooper for four years, af­ter 10 years as a county sher­iff’s deputy in the area, po­lice and friends said. “He truly did love be­ing a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer,” fam­ily friend Chris Fletcher said. “One of his last texts to an­other one of his cousins was he couldn’t be­lieve he got paid to do what he does.”

Gov. An­drew Cuomo said “the en­tire New York fam­ily grieves” for Davis, a mar­ried fa­ther of three teenagers who was com­mis­sioner of a youth baseball league in his tight-knit com­mu­nity. State po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Ge­orge P Beach II noted that signs had al­ready sprung up around the area to pay trib­ute to Davis. “It’s not just the po­lice who suf­fer a loss like this,” Beach said. Justin Wal­ters, 32, was bare­foot and clad only in shorts when he was taken to a town court around 4 am Mon­day to be charged with mur­der.

He was in an orange jail uni­form and shack­les when he was re-ar­raigned Mon­day evening in LeRay Town Court, where he was or­dered held with­out bail for grand jury ac­tion. His as­signed lawyer, Eric Swartz, waived a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing. He said the next ap­pear­ance would be in Jef­fer­son County Court later. He wouldn’t com­ment fur­ther, say­ing he had only met Wal­ters min­utes be­fore court. Wal­ters, a na­tive of Zee­land, Michi­gan, joined the Army in 2007 and did two one-year tours in Afghanistan, in 2009 and again from March 2011 to March 2012, Army of­fi­cials said. He was sta­tioned at Fort Drum, home of the 10th Moun­tain Di­vi­sion.

Fort Drum’s se­nior com­man­der, Maj. Gen. Wal­ter E Pi­att, called the slain trooper a hero. “It takes an un­com­mon valor to run to­ward acts of ter­ri­ble vi­o­lence, to sac­ri­fice for the safety of strangers,” Pi­att said. Cuomo, a Demo­crat, called Davis’ death “yet an­other sad re­minder of the risks law en­force­ment of­fi­cers face each day.” Davis was the sec­ond New York law en­force­ment of­fi­cer killed on duty in less than a week. New York City po­lice Of­fi­cer Mioso­tis Fa­milia was fa­tally shot last Wed­nes­day by a man who was then killed by other of­fi­cers.

The state po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent said Davis was wear­ing body ar­mor but the round hit him in his side, where he had no pro­tec­tion. He said Wal­ters gave no mo­tive for the shoot­ings. Wal­ters and his wife, who was 27, met around the time she fin­ished high school in Mat­ty­dale, a com­mu­nity near Syra­cuse, her home­town friend Jerry Mikels said. She was de­voted to her tod­dler-age son and was al­ways will­ing to help peo­ple, he said. “She got along with ev­ery­body,” he said. “If she knew you needed help, she would help out. She was there for my wife when she had can­cer.”

Data on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence among mil­i­tary cou­ples varies widely. A 2010 fed­eral Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol sur­vey, pre­pared for the De­part­ment of De­fense, said do­mes­tic vi­o­lence aimed at mil­i­tary wives oc­curs at a sim­i­lar rate as it does to women in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, with about 30 per­cent of the wives hav­ing been phys­i­cally at­tacked, raped or stalked by an in­ti­mate part­ner. But other stud­ies on the per­cent­age of women in mil­i­tary cou­ples who’ve ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic vi­o­lence have given rates rang­ing from about 13 to 60 per­cent.—AP

Justin Wal­ters

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