UPDATE: State Rests Case; Cargill Defense Begins Wednesday
Updated Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 1:27 p.m. CDT
The state rested its case against Kimberly Cargill this morning, and the defense will begin its case Wednesday at 9 a.m.
By DAYNA WORCHEL
The state is expected to rest its case today against a Whitehouse woman accused of killing her babysitter to keep her from testifying in a child custody hearing, Judge Jack Skeen Jr. of the Smith County 241st District Court told the jury Monday afternoon.
Skeen said the defense would begin to present its case on Wednesday for Kimberly Cargill, 45, who is charged with capital murder. She could be sentenced to death if she is convicted. The trial, which began on May 7, had originally been scheduled to last as long as six weeks.
The body of Cherry Walker, 39, was found on County Road 2191, also known as Oscar Burkett Road on June 19, 2010. Ms. Walker, who had been babysitting for Ms. Cargill's young son had been scheduled to testify against the defendant in a child custody hearing.
On Monday, Suzanne Jones Davis, a high school friend of the defendant, told the jury that she had written a letter at Ms. Cargill's request to Dr. Wade French, a psychologist who was set to evaluate Ms. Cargill before her child custody hearing.
Ms. Davis said she had first met Ms. Cargill when the two were in the eighth grade in Richardson, but had not been friends while in high school. The two re-connected after a high school reunion in February 2010, and began communicating by e-mail.
Smith County Assistant District Attorney April Sikes showed the jury a series of e-mails between the two women in June 2010, in which Cargill told Ms. Davis what to write in a letter to French. Ms. Davis, who testified that she did not know Ms. Cargill that well, and had never met her young children, wrote a letter in which she said "Kim would give her life for (her child)" and "Kim is hard working and loving."
Ms. Sikes asked Ms. Davis if she made these statements because she knew them to be true, or because Ms. Cargill had asked her to do so. Ms. Davis said she did not know that the items were true, and that she had only put in the letter what Ms. Cargill had asked.
Ms. Davis, who was arrested for tampering with evidence, also testified that the defendant asked her in June 2010 to change her passwords on her Facebook, Google and email accounts. Ms. Davis has not been indicted for that charge, but said in court that she made those changes in July 2010.
The defendant also asked Ms. Davis to remove some items from her Whitehouse home, including some personal mementos and photos.
Defense attorneys Brett Harrison and Jeff Haas will cross examine Ms. Davis today after the state had to call witnesses out of order, Skeen said.
In earlier testimony on Monday, Rueon Walker, Cherry Walker's stepmother, tearfully identified a photo of her dead stepdaughter as she appeared in the morgue. In response to Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham's questions, Mrs. Walker said she didn't mind seeing pictures of her dead stepdaughter again, because she already had "seen her at her worst -- she's my baby."
Mrs. Walker said it was very difficult for her to testify, because it was like "burying her all over again," in response to questions from Haas.
Several of the victim's friends, including Joseph Mayo, a young man with whom she had a dating relationship, testified about their friendship with Ms. Walker, saying they all got along well. Mayo, who is mentally challenged also, testified that he and the victim loved to watch scary movies together and that sometimes Ms. Walker would come to watch him sing at local restaurants. The two met when they both worked at Goodwill in Tyler.
"Cherry believed in me -- she said she was proud of me for pursuing my dream," Mayo said. He added that "Cherry was a great girl."
Barry Crumpton, who was the grand jury foreman on the grand jury that indicted Ms. Cargill, said the grand jury was not able to determine the manner and means by which Ms. Walker died.
Crumpton said he and the grand jury heard evidence that Ms. Walker died of asphyxiation and that the indictment stated she had died of asphyxiation.