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Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

Murder charges may be upped

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bond hearings have been set for September for four individuals accused of a murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the death of a Unionville man.

But District Attorney General Robert Carter said that it was possible that the charges against the four could be increased to first degree murder, depending on what the ongoing investigation reveals.

Attorneys were appointed Wednesday for Susan Walls, 54, and Dawn Walls, 27, the wife and daughter of murder victim Larry Walls Sr.

The pair were arrested Saturday and charged with criminal responsibility for the conduct of another to commit criminal homicide.

Sean Gearhardt, 20, and Jason Starrick, 25, of Antioch, are charged with criminal homicide.

The two women are accused of paying Gearhardt and Starrick $400 to kill Walls, who was found dead in his home last Wednesday, investigators for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

The men allegedly killed Walls while the women were at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Nashville. Gearhardt and Starrick were roommates with Dawn Walls in Antioch.

Lawyers appointed

A bond hearing for the four accused is set before General Sessions Judge Charles Rich on Sept. 12 beginning at 1 p.m.

According to Carter, Chris Westmoreland will represent Susan Walls while Dawn is to be represented by the public defender's office. Attorney Robert Marlow will defend Gearhardt while Starrick is to be represented by Jeff Seckler.

Carter stated that as the investigation into the case proceeds, charges could be changed from criminal homicide to first degree murder or other related counts.

Following the bond hearing next month, Carter said he believes that a date will be set for a preliminary hearing before Rich, who will then decide if enough evidence exists to take the case to a grand jury.

Carter said he doubted that the four will waive their right to the hearing, also noting that the legal representation can change if any of the four hire their own attorneys.

"It's an ongoing investigation," Carter said of the case.

Made call

All four of the accused are being held without bond at Bedford County Jail.

Sue Walls has allegedly admitted to the murder-for-hire plan under questioning by law enforcement, and the TBI has stated that Dawn was a part of that agreement.

According to the TBI, the victim's wife called 911 at approximately 3:13 p.m. last Wednesday after finding her husband dead of multiple wounds in their ransacked home on Enon Church Road.

The TBI responded after being requested by the Bedford County Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office. Agents, along with members of the Nashville Crime Laboratory's Violent Crime Response Team, gathered evidence from the scene.