By Brad Kellar
Convicted capital murderer Adam Kelly Ward stunned a Hunt County courtroom Friday, by claiming for the first time that he believed Michael "Pee Wee" Walker had a gun when Ward shot him to death two years ago.
Ward also said he was not confessing when he gave a videotaped statement to a Texas Rangers investigator hours after the fatal shooting in which he admitted killing Walker and said he believes the tape may have been altered prior to it being shown to a jury in the 354th District Court earlier this month.
Ward, 24, was on the witness stand much of the day Friday, as the sentencing phase in his trial continued. Ward had previously been found guilty by the jury of capital murder and the same panel will decide whether Ward will be sentenced to either life in prison or death by lethal injection. The jury could receive the case to begin deliberations early next week.
Walker was working as a code enforcement officer for the City of Commerce when shortly after 10 a.m. on June 13, 2005, he was taking photos of alleged code violations at the home where Ward lived on Caddo Street.
According to testimony from several witnesses, Ward objected and the two argued, with Ward spraying Walker with a hose. Walker called 911 on his cell phone while Ward ran into the house, grabbed a .45 caliber pistol and two loaded clips. Ward returned to the scene and began chasing Walker, shooting him as many as nine times, before Ward's father took the weapon away.
In his videotaped statement later that day, Ward admitted shooting Walker, saying he felt threatened by the victim's actions. He made no mention of any firearm in Walker's possession, nor have his defense attorneys raised any issues regarding self defense or a second weapon. No other weapon was found at the scene and the only bullet casings recovered came from Ward's gun.
And, while most witnesses have testified that Ward began firing at Walker almost immediately after he came out of the house, Ward testified that it was more of a standoff.
"I can tell you from what I know of the situation, there was no weapon brandished until ... I thought I was in imminent danger," Ward said.
He later testified that the three-hour statement he made after his arrest was not meant to be taken as a confession.
"I was under the pretense I was talking to the Texas Ranger about threats to my life and threats to my family," Ward said.
Ward said he "saw some discrepancies" in the video from the way he remembered it, although when asked specific questions regarding statements he made in the tape, Ward often said he could not recall making them.
Later, when he was asked whether he believed the tape had been altered, Ward said it could have been.
"I don't believe everything in there is true and correct," Ward said.
Regarding the shooting itself, Ward said he didn't remember much of the incident after the first two shots were fired. When asked if he felt he was defending himself, Ward said, "To a point, I was trying to get control of an out of control situation."
Ward also was asked whether he now believed, as he had claimed in the videotape, that Walker was on drugs the day he was shot.
"From what I could tell about his demeanor, he could have been on prescription drugs or narcotics," Ward said.
Following Ward's testimony, the jury heard from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Jay Randall Price, who examined the defendant before the trial began.
Price echoed the feelings of other defense experts, who said Ward is paranoid and delusional.
"He thought everybody in the system ... all authorities, were somehow conspiring against him and his family," Price said.
Posted by Brad Kellar