Woman sentenced for role in murder
Judge to Mariah Walton: ‘You made the decision to enter the world of drug dealing and violence’
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.
Mariah Walton arrives in district court for arraignment on murder charges.