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Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2014

Murder case hearing delayed until March

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Scheduling conflicts and illness has delayed a hearing in a murder-for hire case until late March.

Sean Gearhardt, 20 and Jason Starrick, 25, both of Antioch, and the wife and daughter of murder victim Larry Walls Sr. -- Susan Walls, 54, and Dawn Walls, 27 -- will appear before General Sessions Judge Charles Rich on Friday, March 22 for a preliminary hearing.

Last August, Walls, 55, was found dead in his Unionville home and investigators claim that his wife and daughter allegedly paid Gearhardt and Starrick $400 to commit the murder.

Charges

Susan and Dawn Walls have been accused of criminal responsibility for the conduct of another to commit criminal homicide, while Gearhardt and Starrick face criminal homicide charges. The four are being held at Bedford County Jail on $1 million bond each.

The hearing will be to determine if there is enough proof to bind the four over to the April session of the Bedford County grand jury, or the suspects could waive their right to the hearing and be automatically bound over.

The preliminary hearing had originally been set for last Friday, but a scheduling conflict with Rich made it necessary to move it to Wednesday. However, Chris Westmoreland, counsel for Susan Walls, was not present due to illness, so the hearing was reset again.

Accusations

Last August, District Attorney General Robert Carter explained that as the investigation into the case proceeds, charges could be changed from criminal homicide to first degree murder or other related counts.

Investigators say that the men allegedly killed Walls while the women were at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Nashville. Dawn Walls was a roommate with Gearhardt and Starrick in Antioch.

A TBI agent testified last September that Susan Walls made a statement implicating herself in the plan to murder her husband. Gearhardt and Starrick were allegedly paid with cash and a debt card used at an Antioch gas station.

Testimony from the TBI also indicated that a statement from Starrick fingered Gearhardt in the slaying, with Starrick allegedly holding the victim in a headlock while Gearhardt struck him with a tire iron.