CLEVELAND (AP) — A newlywed accused of soliciting her firefighter husband’s killing to collect $100,000 in insurance money has been convicted of aggravated murder in a scheme that was flawed from the start: His ex-wife was still the beneficiary of his policy.
Uloma Curry-Walker, 45, could receive life in prison without parole for the November 2013 slaying of William Walker, whom she had married just four months earlier. Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before coming back with the verdict Friday, Cleveland.com reported.
Prosecutors said Curry-Walker was nearing financial ruin after running up tens of thousands of dollars in debt when she asked her then-17-year-old daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend to find someone to kill her husband so she could collect the insurance money.
But a police investigation found that Curry-Walker’s plan had a glaring problem from the outset. Her husband had not yet changed the beneficiary on the insurance policy from his ex-wife’s name to Curry-Walker’s when he was killed, so it was the ex-wife who received the money.
Testimony showed that Curry-Walker gave the boyfriend, Chad Padgett, a $1,000 down payment to carry out the slaying. Padgett contacted his cousin Chris Hein, who initially failed in his attempt to kill Walker. Hein then turned to Ryan Dorty to carry out the killing.
Prosecutors said Dorty ambushed Walker and shot him four times as he returned home from getting fast food Curry-Walker had requested. She and her husband were packing the night he was killed for a move to a house they had purchased outside Cleveland.
The daughter, Padgett, Hein and Dorty testified against Curry-Walker at trial as part of plea deal for their roles in the murder conspiracy. Hein agreed to a sentence of 18 years to life; Padgett 28 years to life; and Dorty 23 years to life. Prosecutors agreed not to seek adult charges against Curry-Walker’s daughter. She will instead spend a month in a juvenile detention center.
The daughter testified at trial that her mother told her: “No one would believe I would hire a bunch of kids to kill someone when I know people that could.”
Curry-Walker wrote a confession the day she surrendered to police that said she killed her husband because he was abusive. Her attorneys did not call any witnesses to testify that Walker was violent toward his wife.
Cleveland.com reported that one of Curry-Walker’s attorneys pointed to discrepancies in witness testimony during closing arguments and suggested the daughter had devised the murder scheme.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 8.
Neither of her attorneys returned telephone messages seeking comment on Friday.
Friday would have been the couple’s fourth wedding anniversary.
Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com
[Screengrab of Curry-Walker at her 2015 arraignment via News 5 Cleveland]