Soldier accused of killing his wife and a New York state trooper, police say – Washington Post

 

A U.S. Army soldier killed his wife and a New York state trooper outside the infantryman’s home near the Canadian border on Sunday night, according to police.

Justin Dean Walters, a staff sergeant with 10 years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan, lived with his wife off a county road in Theresa, N.Y.

Someone reported gunshots at the home about 8 p.m., police said.

Joel Davis, a New York State police trooper for four years with a wife and three children, reported to investigate.

As the trooper approached the home, he encountered Walters holding his rifle in the driveway, police said.

Police said the soldier shot Davis once in the chest, killing him.

When backup arrived, Walters put down his gun and surrendered.

They would later find the soldier’s wife, 27-year-old Nichole Walters, dead at what WWNY reported was a double-wide trailer.

Another woman who lived nearby had been shot too, the station reported, but was expected to recover.

Court documents show Walters was charged with two counts of murder — first-degree for the officer, and second-degree for his wife.

Spectrum News showed troopers leading the infantryman, shirtless and shoeless, into LeRay Town Court.

But his arraignment had to be delayed until Wednesday, the outlet reported, because Walters failed to answer the judge’s questions.

“I’m not asking you whether or not you’re guilty of this charge,” the judge tells him in courtroom video. “I’m simply asking you whether or not you understand why you’re here.”

“I do not, sir,” Walters replies.

He had no lawyer, according to the court.

Walters’s military records show he enlisted in 2007, was stationed at Fort Drum, and served two year-long tours in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012.

Non-commissioned officers with his rank typically oversee a squad of fewer than a dozen soldiers in an infantry unit. His list of medals indicates he likely saw combat.

A 2008 study by the RAND Corporation think tank estimates 18.5 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan show signs of post-traumatic stress or major depression.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs has said there is no causal link between post-traumatic stress and homicide. And it was not clear if Walters had any mental health issues from his two Afghanistan combat deployments.

Davis, who hailed from Evans Mills, N.Y., and died at age 36, left behind a wife and three children, according to state police.

“The entire New York family grieves today for Trooper Joel Davis, who was shot and killed in the line of duty,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.

This article has been updated with new information.

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