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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Murder was 'quite cheap'; $400 payment, now $1 million bonds

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dawn Walls, at right, wept, while her mother Susan Walls listened to testimony from a TBI agent who gave details of the August slaying of 55-year-old Larry Walls Sr.. The mother and daughter allegedly hired two men from Antioch to kill Walls for $400 -- an amount General Sessions Judge Charles Rich called "quite cheap."
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
Bonds were set at $1 million each Wednesday for four defendants charged in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Testimony from a TBI agent shed some light on alleged events the morning of Aug. 8 -- the day 55-year-old Larry Walls Sr., was allegedly murdered at the hands of Sean Gearhardt, 20, and Jason Starrick, 25, of Antioch, who allegedly received a payment of $400 and instructions from Susan Walls, 54, and Dawn Walls, 27, the wife and daughter of the victim.

Susan and Dawn Walls are charged with criminal responsibility for the conduct of another to commit criminal homicide, while Gearhardt and Starrick face criminal homicide charges.

District Attorney General Robert Carter asked that General Sessions Court Judge Charles Rich allow no bond for the defendants, citing the risk to the public, also pointing out that two of the suspects have a previous criminal history.

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.

Tire iron used

TBI criminal investigator Andrew Conn said he was called to the murder scene by Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce. Deputies found Walls in a bedroom of his home, following a call from his wife, who claimed she discovered the body.

Conn testified that following interviews with Susan, she gave a statement implicating herself in the alleged plot to kill her husband. Gearhardt and Starrick were allegedly paid with cash and a debt card used at a gas station in Antioch.

According to Conn's testimony, Starrick held the victim in a headlock while Gearhardt struck him with a tire iron. A statement from Starrick implicates Gearhardt in the slaying, Conn said.

Out of the $400 paid for the murder, $70 was paid up front to the pair on the morning of the murder so that items could be gathered to commit the crime, Conn testified.

Sean Gearhardt, left, and Jason Starrick of Antioch have been charged with criminal homicide in the death of Larry Walls Sr., who was found in his bedroom on Aug. 8. According to testimony from a TBI agent, Starrick alleged held Walls in a headlock while Gearhardt beat him with a tire iron.
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
The TBI agent said that surveillance video from Antioch all the way to Unionville is being examined from "numerous locations" from the morning of Walls death and the night before. Cell phone records are also being looked at and Conn explained that the crime scene analysis has not yet been completed.

All four of the suspects have given written statements detailing their roles in the alleged plot to kill Walls, Conn explained.

Evaluation set

Under cross-examination by Chris Westmoreland, who represents Susan Walls, Conn said that she was upset when interviewed, but appeared to have no bruises on her.

Conn testified that Susan had not been read her Miranda rights, but she had not been in custody when she made the incriminating statements to authorities.

Dawn Walls was weeping when she entered the courtroom and her mother Susan will undergo a competency and mental evaluation by state doctors at Centerstone in Tullahoma.

Gearthardt and Susan Walls have no criminal history, while Dawn had previous convictions in Rutherford County, and Starrick has a much longer criminal history, all in different counties around Tennessee.

'Quite cheap'

After the TBI agent made his testimony, Carter said that "the risk to the community is clear," asking that no bond be granted, while defense attorneys representing the four requested a bond of $100,000.

Rich said that the case before him was a "cold blooded murder, first degree murder," adding that it was "quite cheap at that" given the amount of money allegedly paid for the slaying.

Rich said that in the interest of the public, he was setting bond at $1 million for each defendant. Future court dates in the case have yet to be set.

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