Woman sen­tenced for role in mur­der

Judge to Mariah Wal­ton: ‘You made the de­ci­sion to en­ter the world of drug deal­ing and vi­o­lence’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SUNDAY SELECT - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN A Pottstown woman who ran a drug traf­fick­ing busi­ness with her one­time paramour is on her way to state prison for play­ing a role in the mur­der of an­other man dur­ing a dis­pute about money re­lated to the drug deals.

Mariah Anne Wal­ton, 23, of the 600 block of State Street, was sen­tenced in Mont­gomery County Court on Thurs­day to nine to 20 years in state prison on charges of third-de­gree mur­der and con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der in con­nec­tion with the March 20, 2015, gun­shot slay­ing of Ar­tie Bradley in Pottstown.

“The life that was lost here, that im­pacts his fam­ily forever. You made the de­ci­sion to en­ter the world of drug deal­ing and vi­o­lence,” Judge Wendy Dem­chick­Al­loy ad­dressed Wal­ton dur­ing a hear­ing at the county’s Youth Cen­ter in West Norriton. “It’s truly un­for­tu­nate a life had to be lost in the midst of this.”

The judge added, how­ever, that in fash­ion­ing a sen­tence she did con­sider Wal­ton’s even­tual co­op­er­a­tion with pros­e­cu­tors when Wal­ton tes­ti­fied against her former boyfriend Richard Allen “Bub” Collins, who de­liv­ered the fa­tal shots to Bradley dur­ing a con­fronta­tion at Wash­ing­ton and Beech streets. Collins, 38, of Philadel­phia, was con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der at a trial ear­lier this year and is serv­ing a life prison sen­tence.

“I’m not un­mind­ful it’s a self­ish save my own skin ap­proach … but you were a pow­er­ful wit­ness and helped cinch the com­mon­wealth’s con­vic­tion,” Dem­chick-Al­loy ad­dressed Wal­ton.

The most damn­ing ev­i­dence against Collins came when Wal­ton tes­ti­fied she ob­served Collins ap­proach and fa­tally shoot Bradley, 38, of North Char­lotte Street, dur­ing a late evening con­fronta­tion over the drug debt.

“I watched you tes­tify. I lis­tened to what you said and I find

you to be cred­i­ble,” the judge told Wal­ton. “You made a hor­ri­ble er­ror in judgment in hook­ing your wagon to Mr. Collins, dev­as­tat­ingly poor judgment.”

Wal­ton, ap­pear­ing to be­come tearful, is­sued an apol­ogy to Bradley’s fam­ily.

“I need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity. I could have done things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. I could have done things sooner,” said Wal­ton, ad­mit­ting she could have co­op­er­ated sooner than she did. “But I did tell the truth.”

Wal­ton, who was sup­ported in court by her par­ents and other rel­a­tives, begged the judge for “a chance” to do bet­ter things in her fu­ture.

As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Ben­jamin McKenna, while mind­ful of Wal­ton’s co­op­er­a­tion, said a lengthy prison term was ap­pro­pri­ate. The mur­der, McKenna said, left a last­ing im­pact on Bradley’s mother and his 14-year-old daugh­ter, whose lives will never be the same.

“This was a hor­rific crime in which the de­fen­dant was an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant. All of this was over drug money, which makes it all the more hor­rific,” McKenna ar­gued. “This was a crime that was based on money and drugs, it was all about busi­ness.

“Re­gard­less of the co­op­er­a­tion that she pro­vided after­ward, which is cer­tainly some­thing that needs to be fac­tored in, we also need to hold peo­ple ac­count­able that take lives or par­tic­i­pate in the mur­der of other peo­ple,” McKenna added.

The mur­der was in­ves­ti­gated by county De­tec­tive Todd Richard and Pottstown De­tec­tive Thomas Lea­han, who were in court on Thurs­day for the cul­mi­na­tion of the case.

De­fense lawyer Hindi Kranzel ar­gued for le­niency on be­half of Wal­ton, main­tain­ing Wal­ton has no sig­nif­i­cant prior record, has the abil­ity to change and can con­form to the rules and be­come a bet­ter per­son if given a chance. Kranzel de­scribed a woman who was young and im­pres­sion­able and a fol­lower who be­lieved Collins was “her world.”

“He con­trolled her. He led her. She didn’t know what to do with­out him. She thought he was her world. She thought that this man loved her,” said Kranzel, ad­ding Wal­ton is re­morse­ful. “She has now turned the cor­ner. She knows what she’s done will have a last­ing im­pact for Mr. Bradley’s fam­ily. She will forever have that hang over her and not let it go.”

Dur­ing Collins’ trial, Wal­ton tes­ti­fied she ob­served Collins shoot Bradley two times and Bradley fell to the ground. Wal­ton went on to tes­tify she ob­served Collins pro­ceed to shoot Bradley four ad­di­tional times af­ter Bradley col­lapsed to the ground. Collins then got into Wal­ton’s wait­ing ve­hi­cle and she drove Collins to Philadel­phia, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

Ad­mit­ting that she ran an il­le­gal drug busi­ness with Collins in Pottstown, Wal­ton added that on oc­ca­sion Bradley also helped the pair sell drugs, in­clud­ing co­caine and heroin. Wal­ton tes­ti­fied Collins and Bradley, who were once friends, be­came em­broiled in ar­gu­ments about $10,000 that Collins be­lieved was miss­ing from the pro­ceeds re­lat­ing to a heroin trans­ac­tion.

On the night of the killing, ac­cord­ing to Wal­ton, Collins told her he was go­ing to con­front Bradley about the miss­ing money.

Wal­ton also tes­ti­fied Collins was wear­ing Nike “Lebron 12” sneak­ers with red laces at the time of the deadly con­fronta­tion, tes­ti­mony that bol­stered the pros­e­cu­tion’s case against Collins. De­tec­tives found sneaker print ev­i­dence in the snow near Bradley’s body. De­tec­tives com­pared that foot­print found at the homi­cide scene to that of a known im­pres­sion of a Nike “Lebron 12” sneaker. The sneaker print was found to make the same “hon­ey­comb” im­pres­sions found at the scene, pros­e­cu­tors al­leged.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Mariah Wal­ton ar­rives in district court for ar­raign­ment on mur­der charges.

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