Supreme Court overturns Reno woman’s conviction in husband’s killing
CARSON CITY – A Reno woman’s first-degree murder conviction, for shooting her husband in the head with a flare gun in September 1997, was overturned Thursday by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The high court ordered a new trial for Cheryl Ann Walker, 44, sentenced to a century in prison despite her claim that she had been beaten for years by Anthony Walker Sr. and killed him in self-defense.
The Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge erred in allowing testimony from the couple’s son about two incidents years earlier in which Walker had threatened her husband with a gun.
In one case, 10 years before the killing, the woman pointed a gun at her husband as they argued about her slapping the son for not eating all his food at a picnic.
In the second case, six years before the murder, she pointed a rifle at her husband during a fight over the way he was disciplining another son.
The Supreme Court said the earlier incidents were too ”remote in time,” and significantly different because no shots were fired.
”Therefore, because the prior bad acts offered here do not clearly establish an intent to kill, but more accurately show an intent to threaten, the logical relevance of the acts to show Cheryl’s later intent is further diminished,” the court said.
The prosecution’s mention of the threats at the trial ”clearly cast Cheryl in a negative light, prejudicially suggesting that she has a dangerous and criminal character,” the court added.
Justices also said the fatal shooting occurred during a heated argument in the couple’s mobile home ”in the course of an abusive and tumultuous relationship.”
Under the circumstances, admission of the gun-threat testimony can’t be considered harmless, the court concluded.