Maurice Walker Sr. had a $1 million life insurance policy on his ex-wife when she and her boyfriend were shot and killed last April in their Clinton apartment, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday.
Walker, 53, is on trial for two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Renee Walker, 39, and Steven Kersey, 32.
Iowa Assistant Attorney General James Kivi told the Scott County jury during opening statements that Walker “made special efforts” to make sure the insurance policy premiums were paid before the April 12, 2005, shootings.
Walker’s attorney, Chris Dalton, told jurors Walker was in Chicago at the time of the shootings. She said the state would try to use cell phone records to prove that it “might be possible” that Walker drove back from Chicago to Clinton to commit the slayings, “but ‘might be possible’ is not the same thing as ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ ”
Kivi also told jurors a ski mask found in a blood-stained kitchen silverware drawer in the apartment linked Walker to the crime scene, but Dalton told jurors Walker had given the ski mask to his ex-wife.
Dalton also said Walker sold his ex-wife the High Point .380 semiautomatic pistol used in the shootings.
LaMar Montgomery, who worked at Clinton’s Nestle-Purina plant with Renee Walker and Kersey and attended church at the Victory Center in Clinton with Renee and Maurice Walker, told jurors he found the bodies in their apartment about 1:30 p.m. April 13 when he went to the apartment to get a ride to work, as he often did. He said he yelled up at them from outside the building, then went inside and knocked on the door. He then tried to open the door, but could only get it open partway because Kersey’s body was on the floor of the apartment, blocking the door. He also saw Renee Walker sitting on the end of a couch next to the door, slumped against the armrest.
“I knew something was wrong by the way she was sitting,” he said.
Montgomery said he screamed Renee Walker’s name, then ran down the stairs, “screaming, crying and hollering,” looking for a neighbor he had seen talking on a cell phone.
“I told her to call 911, that my friends were dead,” he said.
Everett Koehler, who lived in the apartment across the hall from Renee Walker and Kersey, said he fell asleep watching television on the night of the shootings and woke up to the sound of a loud scream, then heard a “pop-pop-pop, like a cap gun or something.”
Koehler said he heard a few more pops, then heard someone going down the stairs about 11:20 p.m. Koehler said he had met Maurice Walker before, but did not see him that night, nor did he see the person who went down the stairs. Koehler also said he didn’t investigate or call the police.
“I was thinking about it,” he said. “I wish I would have, but I didn’t.”
Delcina Smith, 20, the oldest of the Walkers’ nine children, testified Tuesday that her parents’ divorce about a year before the shootings was not a friendly one, even though her parents lived together for months after their divorce was final. Her mother began dating again while she still lived with Walker, she said.
She recalled one incident in October 2004 while she was visiting her younger siblings and saw her parents fighting.
“He was hitting her and he hollered at me,” she said.
Smith wept during her testimony, but laughed as she remembered the last time she saw her mother when she stopped at Wal-Mart in Clinton, where Smith worked as a cashier. It was two days before the shootings, and Renee Walker went through her daughter’s checkout line to buy a single tube of toothpaste, even though she could have gone through the express lane.
“She was funny like that,” she said.
Smith also testified that her father did not like Kersey because he thought Kersey was a drug addict. Under cross-examination from Dalton, Smith also said her father didn’t like Kersey being around his children because Kersey had served time in prison for the 1992 shooting of his grandfather in Arkansas.
Clinton Police Sgt. Terry St. Ores and officers Dannie Howard and Rick Bray testified about the department’s response to the scene, and Officer Richard Mojeiko testified about his work in processing the crime scene, including some graphic photos. Mojeiko said four slugs, six shell casings and seven live rounds of ammunition were found in the apartment. The photos showed Renee Walker and Kersey both had their coats on, and groceries they had bought at Wal-Mart on the way home from work that night were still in a blood-spattered grocery sack by the front door near the bodies.
Kivi said during his opening statement that Kersey had been shot in the back and in the head, and Renee Walker had been shot twice in the head. He said both had wounds that indicated they had been shot at close range.
Mojeiko also testified about a video surveillance tape from the Sleep Inn in Tinley Park, Ill., just south of Chicago, that showed Walker checking into the hotel about 4:20 p.m. the day of the shootings, then leaving the hotel 20 minutes later and returning about 2:30 a.m.
During her opening statement, Dalton said Walker was hanging out in Chicago’s Gold Coast district that night.
Testimony will continue today. The trial is being held in Scott County after a judge decided an impartial jury could not be picked in Clinton County.
Steven Martens can be contacted at (563) 659-2595 or email@example.com.