A Cleveland mother and newlywed accused of orderinghas 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 Walker-Curry, 45, could receive life in prison without parole for the November 2013 slaying of William Walker, whom she had married just four months earlier.
Walker-Curry’s trial began on June 21, and she did not take the stand in her defense, CBS affiliate WOIO-TV reports. She’ll be sentenced on Aug. 8.
Prosecutors said Walker-Curry 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 Walker-Curry’s scheme 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 Walker-Curry’s when he was killed, and it was the ex-wife who received the money.
Testimony showed that Walker-Curry gave the boyfriend, Chad Padgett, a $1,000 down payment to carry out the murder. 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 Walker-Curry 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 Walker-Curry 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 Walker-Curry’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.”
Walker-Curry 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.
Neither of her attorneys returned telephone messages seeking comment on Friday.
Cleveland.com reported that one of Walker-Curry’s attorneys pointed to discrepancies in witness testimony during closing arguments and suggested the daughter had devised the murder scheme.
Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before coming back with the verdict, Cleveland.com reports.
Friday would have been the couple’s fourth wedding anniversary.
SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press