Lakewood WA Feb 15 2017 A man who organized the fatal robbery of an armored-car guard at the Lakewood Walmart was convicted Monday for the second time.
Jurors found Odies Walker, 49, guilty of aggravated first-degree murder and other crimes in connection with the 2009 shooting of 38-year-old Kurt Husted. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2.
After his first trial in 2011, Walker was sentenced to life without parole. The Washington State Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing prosecutorial misconduct.
After the verdict in the second trial, presiding juror John Hellwich, an assistant superintendent with the Peninsula School District, said the volume of evidence had been convincing.
Asked why deliberations spanned several days, he said jurors believed that they needed to go through the evidence thoroughly before making a decision, and that they spent most of the time deciding whether Walker planned the murder.
“We had to know that he didn’t just think it was going to be a robbery,” Hellwich said.
Husted, a motorcycle enthusiast and longtime Loomis armored car guard, was picking up receipts from the Walmart when he was shot in the head. His money bag, which contained cash and checks, was taken by his killer and an accomplice.
Walker’s cousin, Calvin Finley, confessed to pulling the trigger in the store. Walker was the getaway driver, and prosecutors argued he was the mastermind behind the plan.
Some people’s accounts of what happened changed from what they initially told police and what they testified to at trial, Hellwich said, and the jury had to cross-reference their testimony with what he called “harder evidence.”
“There was a lot of it,” Hellwich said, such as the surveillance video of the shooting, which jurors watched multiple times.
The fact that the surveillance video showed no hesitation on the part of the shooter and that Walker was found with the biggest share of the money helped convince them, Hellwich said.
Jurors didn’t know the case had been tried before. Hellwich said they sent a question to the court about whether it was Walker’s second trial, but they didn’t get an answer.
After court, the jurors embraced Husted’s family in the hallway.
“We were getting worried that they were getting hung up,” said his father, 73-year-old Ron Husted.
He used a hearing device to listen to the trial, and said he turned down the volume when the shooting was described.
“I don’t want to remember what happened there,” he said. “I want to remember how he was.”
Husted said he was his son’s support crew during motorcycle races, and that his son was a hard worker and well-liked.
Among those who attended the verdict with the family were investigators, victim advocates and a police chaplain they’d known since the shooting.
“This affected a lot of people,” Husted said.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the state Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Walker’s initial conviction in 2015, due to inflammatory slides the prosecution used in closing arguments during the first trial.
And he said that while the second trial hadn’t been as tough as the first, it had left him worn out.
“It was still dramatic to go through it again,” he said.