Updated Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 10:48 a.m. CDT
A Whitehouse woman who admitted to a jury on Wednesday to dumping the body of her mentally challenged babysitter and setting it on fire in June 2010 had a history with her mother and children that included physically violent arguments, her testimony revealed.
Kimberly Cargill, 45, who has been charged in the killing of Cherry Walker, took the stand in her own defense Wednesday, saying Ms. Walker had a seizure while the two were returning from dinner on June 18, 2010. Earlier testimony revealed that Ms. Walker had a history of seizures for which she took medication.
Ms. Walker had been set to testify against Ms. Cargill in a child custody hearing on June 23, 2010, but the victim's partially burned body was found on County Road 2191 on June 19, 2010. The coroner who performed the victim's autopsy said in testimony on Tuesday that she was unable to determine exactly how Ms. Walker died.
Wednesday marked the eighth day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Ms. Cargill, who faces the death penalty if convicted.
She told Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham that she didn't stop to make a U-turn on Beckham Street to get Ms. Walker to a hospital because she didn't want to “block traffic.”
Once there in the victim's apartment parking lot, Ms. Cargill said she stopped the car and ran to the passenger side of vehicle where she opened the car door. “She fell out of the door … on to her side,” Ms. Cargill told the jury.
The defendant said the victim was “unresponsive” when they arrived at the parking lot and that she ran door to door at the apartment complex trying to find help. When she could fine none, she returned to where Ms. Walker was laying and tried unsuccessfully to perform CPR.
After being unable to revive Ms. Walker, Ms. Cargill said she panicked and loaded the woman's body into her car floorboard, where she drove around for half an hour before dumping the victim on an isolated Smith County road and setting the body on fire.
The prosecutor showed the inconsistencies of Ms. Cargill's behavior and testimony by talking about the video shown of her inside the Whitehouse Police Department inquiring about a lost dog on June 19, 2010, the day Ms. Walker's body was found.
“Why aren't you crying on the Whitehouse video?” Bingham asked Ms. Cargill. “I was in denial there,” the defendant responded. When Bingham said Ms. Cargill seemed happy on the video as she inquired about her lost dog, she responded that “it was just an act.”
“Did you shed one tear for Cherry Walker?” Bingham asked Ms. Cargill. “I've shed many tears, just not on the video,” she responded.
Ms. Cargill testified that also on June 19, 2010, she washed her car and drove past Ms. Walker's body again to see if anyone had discovered it.
She also testified she could tell Ms. Walker was upset about receiving the subpoena. “She was upset because she thought I had subpoenaed her,” Ms. Cargill said.
In earlier testimony, Bingham made reference to Ms. Cargill stating that she would take Ms. Walker to “hide out” at her house after Ms. Walker had been subpoenaed.
The defendant admitted she had “anger issues” and detailed the loss of custody of her four sons to their fathers, and an instance where she put her hand across her mother's throat “because she was in my face.”
Ms. Cargill also said she and one of her older sons got into an altercation where the police were called after she bit the boy “as hard as she could” on the shoulder. “He had me in a chokehold after I tried to hit him with a belt,” the defendant said.
In his opening statements to the jury, which he had waived when the trial began on May 7, defense attorney Brett Harrison said that most of what they had heard so far was accurate and the defense “agreed with a lot of the testimony.”
He said Ms. Cargill consented to a swab of her cheek to test her DNA. “Kim was with Ms. Walker when she died, she tried to perform CPR, and she drove to Oscar Burkett Road,” Harrison said as his client went to take the stand.
Other defense witnesses who testified Wednesday included Ms. Walker's case worker at the Andrews Center from 2007-2009, Brenda Whitaker. Ms. Whitaker said Ms. Walker was a certified babysitter who had taken classes.
“She was not having problems with babysitting,” Ms. Whitaker said. “Cherry still liked babysitting. She liked earning extra money.”